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:
–Horror films from the 70s and 80s
–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?