Of all the well-stocked aisles, overflowing produce bins, and plentiful culinary departments at Fairway, none is quite as impressive as the deli counter. Which stands to reason—after all, the market is in New York City, birthplace of the Jewish delicatessen. While traditional kosher delis adhere to strict dietary rules, the Fairway counter is more of a "New World" deli, offering a dizzying array of cooked and cured meats, sausages, pates, and terrines made from pork, beef, chicken, and even wild boar.
Today's Cook the Book recipe, excerpted from The Food Life, harkens back to the glory days of the delicatessen. New York Deli-Style Roast Beef Sandwich with Coleslaw and Russian Dressing is a classic wonder made from rare roast beef, tangy carrot-studded coleslaw, and sweet pickle relish all heaped between—what else?—thick slices of seeded Jewish rye.
If you don't have time to roast your own shell steaks for this recipe, you can substitute high-quality deli roast beef. Just make sure it is extremely rare and very thinly sliced.
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- For the roast beef
- 3 shell steaks (about 1/4 pound each)
- Kosher salt
- For the coleslaw
- 3/4 to 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1/2 head green cabbage, cored and finely shredded
- 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- For the Russian dressing
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish, drained well in a sieve
- 3 cornichons, thinly sliced
- 8 to 12 slices seeded Jewish rye
- Kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Rub the steaks all over with kosher salt (about 1/2 teaspoon per steak). Place the steaks on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until the meat registers 130ºF on an instant-read thermometer, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a board and let rest until cool (about 30 minutes). If possible, don't refrigerate the meat before assembling the sandwiches.
For the slaw, in a large bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar. Add the cabbage and carrot and toss well, then season with salt and pepper.
Fold together all the ingredients for the Russian dressing.
Slice the beef very thinly against the grain. To assemble, spread Russian dressing on one side of each slice of rye bread. Divide the sliced beef among half the slices of bread. For a deli-style look, drape the meat in a mound rather than laying it flat. Sprinkle the meat with a little salt, then top each sandwich with a generous scoop of coleslaw. Top the slaw with another small dollop of Russian dressing, close the sandwiches, and slice them in half. Provide plenty of napkins for your guests. (If your sandwich isn't a little messy, you did something wrong.)