Find Your Inner Reuben Sandwich


Carelessly leaving Reuben sandwich ingredients near a mischievous mound of rising dough is just asking for trouble. I couldn’t figure out why, but when I’d leave the kitchen to let some dough rise, I’d come back, and the refrigerator door would be open, and the dough would look thicker, more “stuffed.” It would also be giggling, and when I’d ask, “What’s so funny?” it would burp up a clump of sauerkraut. So, I installed some hidden cameras and discovered that dough, within reach of tempting ingredients, will suddenly creep along the countertop, split part-way, and then swallow the ingredients, shifting them around inside. The results are terribly delicious.

This kind of thing has been happening in my house since I was a hungry teenager, looking for ways to stuff food items inside of other food items and eat them. Nefarious influences, such as Woman’s Day Magazine, would arrive at our house, and there would be recipes in them, and I’d try them all, including a Reuben loaf recipe that appeared in some kind of magazine of sorts back in the 1980s. And that Reuben loaf was delicious. The recipe stayed in our family for many years. While I’ve tried several variations, the following version is the one that the Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks Team likes the best:


–3 cups of all-purpose flour

–1 tablespoon of granulated sugar

–one package of yeast (or 2 ¼ teaspoons of yeast)

–1 teaspoon of salt

–1 ½ cups of warm water

–a package of pastrami

–one can of shredded sauerkraut (14.5 ounces)—rinsed, drained, and squeezed dry

–3/4 cup of shredded mozzarella (divided)

–Thousand Island dressing: ¼ cup of ketchup and ¼ cup of mayonnaise (I use light mayo. If you want, you can double the dressing if you like it a lot.)

–Some recipes call for caraway seeds to be sprinkled on the top. Nate does not like them, so I omit them, but they do make the top of the loaf look pretty—and they add that “rye” flavor that you would get with rye bread from a classic Reuben sandwich.


 –Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit

–Mix the water and yeast together in a bowl and let sit for 5 minutes.

–Add the sugar and salt.

–Add the flour a little at a time and mix.

–Knead the dough out on a flat surface for about 10 minutes.

–Let the dough rise. Ideally, you’d let it rise several hours and punch it down, etc., but I’m too impatient when it comes to Reuben loaf. The dough gets to rise for about ten minutes, and that’s it.

–Divide the dough into two or three equal parts and roll them out into long, oval shapes.

–Down the center third of the dough ovals, spread portions of the Thousand Island dressing. Top with portions of sauerkraut, followed by slices of pastrami. Then, cover each with a ¼ cup of cheese.

–Each oval will now have left and right halves that are not covered by ingredients. Using a knife, cut slits on the sides—but do not cut all the way through the center where the ingredients are.

–Fold the slits/sides over each other, crisscrossing in the center. Essentially, you’ll wind up with loaves that look like they have been braided—or maybe they’re swaddling baby ingredients with love.

–Brush the tops with water. Here is where you could sprinkle the caraway seeds, if desired.

–Bake in the oven on a baking sheet for 15 minutes.

Results: The cheese and Thousand Island dressing just melt together under a warm, crispy crust that’s also soft and chewy inside. The tangy sauerkraut plays off so well with the pastrami. You may need to make more than one batch—and it heats up well the next day if you have leftovers. And you don’t have to stop with the Reuben sandwich-loaf version. There are plenty of ways for mischievous mounds of dough to get into tasty trouble. But they can’t do it alone. Help them. Leaving them a tempting trail of meats, cheeses, and veggies to swallow not only satisfies their insides, but yours as well.

Pairs magnificently with the following accompaniments:

–White wine



–Horror films from the 70s and 80s

–Hallmark movies

–Stretchy pants

–Grippy socks


–Yeti-themed slippers

–The Conway Twitty radio station on Pandora

In Other News: I have a publication up at “Trembling with Fear” from the Horror Tree website. You can read it here. It’s called “Hunger Pangs.” (You probably have to scroll down a bit once you get to the page. There are no other links. The story follows the introductory paragraphs that introduce the stories for that week and other news.)

Your Turn: What’s your favorite sandwich?

44 thoughts on “Find Your Inner Reuben Sandwich

  1. Haha –
    As always I enjoyed your humor – and glad you used a hidden camera to see what was going on – lol
    Also – this stuffed version of a Reuben sounds like a comfort food big time – satisfying and heavy to fill up and fuel
    My mom had a handful of what we’d call her “staple” items while we were growing up and the Reuben sandwich was one of them – but always with Swiss cheese
    And it was a big deal because we all loved them and she always had a lot of the ingredients and so we could snack while she was grilling them two at a time

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this bit: “Nefarious influences, such as Woman’s Day Magazine, would arrive at our house, and there would be recipes in them, and I’d try them all, including a Reuben loaf recipe that appeared in some kind of magazine of sorts back in the 1980s.” My mother used to buy Women’s Day with her weekly grocery order until she realized that they were recycling the same old articles and recipes over and over again.

    I’ve never had a Ruben sandwich (or sammich, as my son-in-law would say). My favorite sandwich is the caprese.

    Your story is indeed horrific and stragely affecting. I think it may be once of your best!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We used to love our magazines in our house back in the 80s, and I still loved to read them in hair salons–until there were no more magazines in waiting rooms because of obvious health reasons. (And, it just makes sense nowadays to not pick up magazines that other people have been handling. I don’t think we’ll ever go back to that.) Thanks also for reading my story! Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome, Cecelia! I went on a Better Homes and Gardens kick in the ’90s until I noticed the same phenomenon with recycling as my mother did with Women’s Day. They didn’t survive the 2001 move.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Otherwise… Yesterday I split a croissant in half, slathered one side with mayo and special delicious orange sauce (as in color not flavor) from a restaurant called Board and Brew, avocado, tomatoes, pepper jack cheese, and turkey. It was to die for.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I love Reubens! Rye bread…yum! There’s a restaurant back in New Mexico…the New York Deli…that makes tofu reubens that are so yummy!
    (My go-to sandwich at home is a grilled pimento cheese sandwich with bread-and-butter pickles.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love Reubens, I believe until they were invented, sauerkraut was just a crock of decaying cabbage without any real goals in life. This sounds like an amazing recipe.
    My favorite sandwich though, is my mom’s grilled cheese. She always puts in all sorts of different cheeses – cheddar, Havarti, Gruyere, Gouda, etc. – and they’re the best. You can make a grilled cheese with sauerkraut, but personally I’m a purist, just want gooey melted cheese.

    Liked by 1 person

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