Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Charcutepalooza: I Got The Cure. Reuben Sammies from Scratch

Have you ever spent several weeks making a sandwich?
Yeah, this is my first time too.
Our first Charcutepalooza project, well, the first for me anyway, was brining.
I decided to do what a number of other participants had in mind as well - make my own Reuben sandwich from scratch. Homemade bread, dressing, sauerkraut and, of course, corned beef.

But first I tried my hand at brining some pork loin, being in Ontario it seemed my provincial duty to make our favourite pork creation - peameal bacon.

I found a nice pork loin roast at the butcher's, whipped up my brine and cured it in the fridge. How easy is that? Brining is certainly a great way to get introduced to preserving meats.
Peameal (so called because it used to be rolled in... pea meal - now it is often rolled in cornmeal, below) is a lovely lean type of bacon that is perfect fried up and piled on a kaiser, maybe with a runny egg on top if you are so inclined. It was surprisingly easy to make, and so much better than store-bought. See the recipe, here.

Riding high on the success of the peameal, we decided it was time to tackle the corned beef. Actually, the hardest thing about doing the corned beef was finding an un-corned brisket in my area. We ended up driving quite a distance - lesson to me to order my meats as early as possible and save a tank of gas. Ouch.

The method was quite the same - whip up a brine (containing seasonings, salts, and specialty seasoning salts that had to be ordered), chill it, and submerge the meat in there - this time for 5 days. When it is finished brining it gets rinsed and cooked - some simmer it for a few hours, I put it in the slow cooker on high for about 4-5 hours until tender. Extra pickling spice is put in the water to bump up the flavour even more.
On Heather's advice, I cooked it early in the day and chilled it for easy slicing. It was time to think about sammies.

This bread has been Yeastspotted!
As we cured 5 pounds of meat, we decided to make a couple of types of bread. A hearty cracked rye/polenta sourdough for cold sammies, and a light onion rye for grilled ones.

Cracked Rye – Polenta Sourdough
Yield: 1050 g (2 loaves)
Reprinted with permission from Susan of Wild Yeast


    * Soak soaker: 12 hours
    * Mix final dough: 10 minutes
    * First fermentation : 2 hours with folds at 40 and 80 minutes
    * Preshape, rest, and shape: 40 minutes
    * Proof: 2.25 hours
    * Bake: 1 hour

Desired dough temperature: 75F

Soaker Ingredients:

    * 78 g cracked rye
    * 60 g coarse polenta
    * 150 g boiling water

Final Dough Ingredients:

    * 89 g flour
    * 89 g finely ground whole rye flour
    * 178 g whole wheat flour
    * 196 g water
    * 12 g (2 t.) salt
    * 36 g molasses
    * 196 g mature 100%-hydration sourdough starter
    * All of the soaker


   1. In a bowl, combine the soaker ingredients. Cover and let rest for about 12 hours.
   2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, or by hand, combine all of the final dough ingredients except the soaker and a little of the water. Mix (in low speed) to incorporate the ingredients. Adjust the water as needed to achieve a medium dough consistency.
   3. Continue mixing (in medium speed or by hand) to a medium level of gluten development.
   4. Add the soaker and mix just until it is completely incorporated into the dough. The dough will seem fairly wet.
   5. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container. Cover and ferment at room temperature for 2 hours, with folds at 40 and 80 minutes. If the dough still seems quite loose at the end of the two hours, give it a third fold.
   6. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Preshape the pieces into balls and let them rest, covered, for 30 minutes.
   7. Shape the dough into tight balls by rotating it (as usual) on the countertop while using the edges of your hands to tuck the edges of the dough underneath. Most of this is done on an unfloured counter to provide friction needed to get the ball tight, but do the last couple of turns in rye or whole wheat flour. Do not try to pinch the bottom seam closed.
   8. Place the loaves seam-side-down in linen-lined baskets that have been dusted with the same flour. Slip the baskets into a large plastic bag.
   9. Proof for about 2 hours and 15 minutes at warm room temperature, or a little longer if the room is cool. The loaves should increase in volume by about 75%.
  10. Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 440F. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
  11. When ready to bake, turn the loaves onto the peel so that the floured side is up. Do not score the loaves.
  12. Once the loaves are in the oven, turn the heat down to 410F. Bake for 10 minutes with steam, and another 38 minutes or so without steam, until the crust is a deep brown. Then turn the oven off and leave the loaves in, with the door ajar, for another 10 minutes.
  13. Cool on a wire rack. Don’t cut until completely cool, or the bread will be gummy.

Onion Rye Bread
adapted from Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Breads

2½ cups AP flour
1½ cups rye flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
2¼ tsp instant yeast
1 cup milk, room temp
½ cup hot water (120°-130°F)
2 Tbsp veg oil
¾ cup finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp caraway seeds

1 egg, beaten, mixed with 1 Tbsp cream and 2 tsp water

In your stand mixer bowl:
Measure 1½ cups white flour, ½ cup rye flour, the sugar, salt, and yeast. Mix well.
Make a well and pour in milk, water, and oil. Combine with a spatula.
Add onions and caraway seeds, stir in.
Stir in remaining cup of flour and the white flour, ¼ cup at a time.
With a dough hook, combine and knead while adding the flour.
Mix for 3 minutes and then turn out onto a lightly floured board. Adjusting hydration if necessary, knead for another few minutes. Form into a ball.
Place into a lightly greased bowl and let rise until doubled, about 1½ hours.
Divide into 2 and form into loaves on lightly floured surface.
Let rise, covered, 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375°F, 20 minutes before baking.
Brush the tops with the egg wash.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.
Cool on wire racks.

To make a Reuben Sammie:
Rye bread - your choice
Russian dressing* (some say Thousand Island)
Corned beef
Swiss cheese

Assemble cold or grill it up for extra toasty goodness. Devour. Repeat as necessary. 

Russian Dressing
from Martha Stewart


Makes 2/3 cup

    * 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    * 2 tablespoons ketchup
    * 2 tablespoons pickle relish
    * 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    * 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    * 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
    * 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


   1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Dressing can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week.

The corned beef recipe as well as the home-cured sauerkraut recipe can be found in Michael Ruhlman's Charcuterie.
I have found that one cabbage makes a life-time supply of kraut, so you will be able to share some with friends. It is great on a sausage on a bun.
And if you are going to make deli sammies - you should have some dill pickles and some chips. The dills are my first batch, left over from about 2 years ago. For the chips I just sliced a couple of russets on a mandoline, tossed them in hot oil and fished them out when lightly browned, with a spider. Drain on a paper towel-lined pan and season with Maldon seasalt.
There you have it, the perfect sandwich. And it only took three weeks.