The almost-perfect Reuben

Reuben sandwich

From the first time Michelle picked up a jar of Geier sauerkraut from the Foxhollow Farm store, Steve started thinking about corning his own beef. He was a little dubious about using Michael Ruhlman’s recipe due to an unfortunate experience with short-rib “pastrami”—but the Charcuterie recipe seemed pretty straightforward, and so a brine was made where a Foxhollow brisket sat for five days, before a several-hour simmer made what Michelle declared was the best corned beef she ever ate. And that was before we made Reuben sandwiches.

Michelle made her own Russian dressing, but we had to use some sweet gherkins and industrial rye bread from the beleaguered Crestwood grocery. Nevertheless the sandwiches were exceptional, the beef spicy and salty and not the least bit stringy.

They were so nice, we had them twice—and then turned the rest into a very good corned beef hash.  It was the middle of corn season, and so we threw in some kernels from a couple of ears which was a nice addition.

Corned beef is one of the simplest things to make yourself. A good brisket, a little pink salt (nitrite curing salt, found in stores frequented by hunters) and a few days in the ’fridge will all but guarantee an amazing corned beef. Gourmandistan will certainly see another one—but next time Steve may make his own rye bread.


(adapted, only slightly, from Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie)

  • 1 gallon water
  • 2 c. kosher salt
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 oz. pink salt
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 TB pickling spice

Combine above ingredients in a pot that is large enough to hold the brisket.  Bring to simmer.  Dissolve sugar.  Stir.  Remove from heat, allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight.

  • 5-lb. beef brisket, preferably grass-fed

Place brisket in brine.  Weigh down with a plate or two to keep submerged. Refrigerate, covered, for 5 days.

Remove meat from brine, and rinse.

Put meat in pot just large enough to hold it, then add water to cover.  Add 2 TB pickling spice.   Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover.  Simmer for approximately 3 hours, until fork-tender.


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