Every so often a snack comes around that has me so infatuated that, like a fussy toddler, I cannot even comprehend the eating of anything else for at least a week. My most recent experience of having overly selective tastebuds came courtesy of the classic Reuben bagel, devoured with delectation from Max Bagels in Cape Town’s Bree Street. However, after realising the need to have the Reuben constantly at hand, I decided to recreate this stalwart sandwich at home by emulating the flavours I’d picked up during many a sneaky lunchtime bagel bacchanalia.
To begin, a good-quality bagel is essential. I prefer mine to be plain, so I can lightly toast each half before filling. Next is the sauerkraut – not to everyone’s taste, this German staple of fermented white cabbage is essential to any decent Reuben as it’s piquancy is perfectly matched with the richness of the cream cheese or mayonnaise. Speaking of which, I generally prefer a thick cream cheese as the base of my Reuben, but a creamy, preferably homemade mayo will do just as well. Now for the spice – most Reuben recipes ask for Russian hot sauce or 1000 Island dressing (again America… what?) but I got crafty and drizzled on a generous swirl of sriracha instead.
To assemble your Reuben with professional precision I use the following edible algorithm:
– Halve and lightly toast your bagel. Arrange two slices of Swiss cheese on the cut side of the top half and grill in a preheated 180°C oven until the cheese has melted.
– Spread cream cheese or mayonnaise on the cut side of the bottom half of the bagel. Swirl sriracha over the top.
– Layer a few slices of hot beef or pastrami on top of this, followed by a thinly sliced dill pickle.
– Add a good wodge of thoroughly drained sauerkraut to finish off the sandwich and top off with the melty cheese lid.
It goes without saying that this bagel is terribly addictive and in no way should ever be shared.