I’m talking about sandwiches, not art. Although some may consider sandwich-making an art, and those are the sandwiches I want. Which could certainly contribute to one’s becoming more Rubenesque. (Now that I think about it, didn’t Subway used to have some kind of “sandwich artist”-based ad campaign before Jared lost all that weight eating sandwiches with nothing on them? There’s a joke in there somewhere.) But I digress.
Last weekend Cook’s Illustrated sent me an email with a Reuben recipe. I thought Rubens sounded good, and looking at the recipe I realized I could probably streamline it. It called for making your own sauerkraut instead of buying it in a jar – but what if you can buy it fresh, like I can here? Ok, sauerkraut, check. Next, Swiss cheese. Well, I have some emmenthal in the fridge, check. Rye bread? There are only about a million bakeries in Paris. Check. Corned beef or pastrami? Nick found several Jewish delis just up the street last Sunday – surely I can find something like that there. Mayonnaise and mustard – already mixed, even. (I think that in France, mayonnaise and mustard are on some kind of spectrum. It is difficult to find mayonnaise without any mustard at all in it. And you can buy mustard “mi-forte” which seems to have mayonnaise already mixed in.) At any rate, these sandwiches should be pretty easy to put together.
Or maybe not. The first problem I ran into was not knowing the French word for “rye.” I had done my homework and found a boulangerie that was supposed to have excellent rye bread. However, I got in there and realized I didn’t know how to ask for what I wanted. After a few awkward moments of stumbling in English and French with the two counter girls, I slunk out with a baguette. I went home and looked it up immediately. In case you’re wondering, the French word for rye is seigle. As in pain de seigle. Which I definitely saw in that boulangerie. D’oh! With my new-found knowledge I found myself at the market bakery counter. Fortunately, they had pain de seigle, too. Crisis averted.
Still at the market, I found the charcuterie counter, and sure enough, they had sauerkraut. But the line was so long I decided to look elsewhere. Maybe the Jewish deli will have some. So off to the deli we went. And they had corned beef, or something like it, called “Pickel.” Great. Sauerkraut? Only in pre-packaged tubs. Yuck. We checked a few more of the Jewish establishments in the neighborhood, to no avail. Well, now I need to buy a cabbage and some cider vinegar. Back to the market for a cabbage, stopping along the way for a bottle of vinegar. Ok, that was not as easy as I thought it was going to be.
But once all the ingredients were acquired, the sandwiches were relatively quick. I chopped up the cabbage and put it in a pot with some cider vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and a couple of cloves.
I covered it and let it cook for about half an hour, until the cabbage was nice and tender. Then I removed the cover and let the excess liquid cook off. There you have it: less than an hour to make fresh sauerkraut!
After that, putting the sandwiches together was a snap. Bread, mayonnaise/mustard combo, cheese, meat, sauerkraut, cheese, top with more mayo/mustard smeared bread, butter the bread and heat in a pan until browned and melty. I thought we could use something green with such a rich sandwich, so I sautéed some pretty little haricots verts I picked up at the market.
I seasoned them with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice, and it was time to eat.
I like green beans with sandwiches or burgers – they’re like french fries, but healthier! Speaking of healthier (or was it Rubenesque?) I need to go find some sausages to eat with the leftover sauerkraut.