Why It Works
- Preheating the kraut and corned beef ensures that the cheese melts quickly upon assembly.
- Toasting the rye on one side yields a crisp outer texture, but leaves the interior tender for maximum fusion with the cheese.
This classic deli sandwich is made by stuffing toasted rye bread with corned beef, sauerkraut, melted Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing. The key to success is to keep everything nice and hot.
- For the Russian Dressing (see note):
- 2 1/2 tablespoons (35ml) mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) sour cream
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (20ml) ketchup
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) dill pickle relish
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) fresh juice from 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) grated horseradish from a jar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the Sandwiches:
- 1 pound (500g) sliced corned beef (see note)
- 1/2 pound (225g) sauerkraut
- 8 slices Jewish rye bread
- 5 tablespoons (70g) unsalted butter, softened
- 8 slices Swiss cheese
For the Russian Dressing: In a medium bowl, stir together mayonnaise, sour cream, ketchup, relish, lemon juice, and horseradish. Season dressing with salt and pepper and set aside.
For the Sandwiches: Preheat oven to 350°F. Lay a sheet of aluminum foil on a rimmed baking sheet and place corned beef in the center. Bring foil edges up to form walls, then add 2 tablespoons (30ml) water to corned beef. Seal package well and transfer to oven to heat corned beef, 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine sauerkraut with 3 tablespoons (45ml) water and set over medium heat until warmed through, about 4 minutes; keep warm.
Brush 1 side of each slice of bread with butter. Heat a large cast iron skillet or griddle over medium heat. Working in batches, add bread, butter side down, and toast until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a clean baking sheet, untoasted side up.
Spread Russian dressing generously all over untoasted side of each bread slice. Mound corned beef, making sure to let any excess moisture drip off first, on half of bread slices. Mound sauerkraut on top of corned beef, making sure to let any excess moisture drip off of it first. Lay half of cheese slices over sauerkraut and the other half on the remaining Russian-dressed bread slices.
Transfer to oven and cook until cheese is fully melted, about 3 minutes. Close sandwiches and serve right away.
2 rimmed baking sheets, large cast iron skillet or griddle
You can substitute store-bought Russian dressing for homemade. Try to find the best corned beef you can locally, or order it online from a good source, like Zingerman's. You can also substitute pastrami, which tastes great in this sandwich.