Who doesn’t love a good Reuben sandwich? What a combination. A flavorful dressing spread on pumpernickel or rye bread and topped with layers of corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese. It’s definitely over the top when grilled until toasted and the cheese is melted.
Here’s a Reuben riff that brings it into the realm of mass production for entertaining and game days. It’s an open-faced sandwich that can be prepped ahead and run under the broiler for a last minute fix.
My chief hang-up on the Reuben has always been the sandwich spread, with a definite thumbs down on sweet ones, like Thousand Island and most Russian dressings. A simple solution is to go with a straight forward, unadulterated combination of mayonnaise and sriracha with a little minced green onion for interest.
For maximum compatibility, serve these tasty morsels with sour dill pickles and crunchy sweet potato chips.
Open-Faced Mini Reubens
1 loaf cocktail rye or pumpernickel bread Dressing
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
1 green onion, minced Toppings
3/4 pound thinly sliced corned beef
1-1/2 cups sauerkraut, rinse and drain well
3/4 pound sliced Swiss cheese
Garnish: ½ cup chopped dill pickle or gherkins
For dressing: blend the mayonnaise and other ingredients and set aside.
Preheat broiler. Set rack about 6” from top.
Warm the sauerkraut. Slice the corned beef into 1-1/2” strips to fold neatly across the rye. Cut the Swiss cheese slices into quarters.
Arrange cocktail rye slices on a baking sheet. Spread each slice liberally with a heaping teaspoon of dressing. Fold the corned beef in 2-3 layers over the bread. Drape a forkful of sauerkraut across the corned beef. Cover the sauerkraut with 2 pieces of Swiss cheese.
Run the open-faced Reubens under the broiler for about 3 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Sprinkle with chopped pickle if desired and serve warm. Yield: 36 or more pieces
Several years ago I included cheese puffs, or gougères, in a flight of hors d’oeuvres for a party and they never ballooned into their usual state of fabulous perkiness.
Fortunately, there were plenty of other offerings, so I put them aside and no one was the wiser. But that incident has always stayed with me.
When you have a culinary mishap, it’s best to revisit it as quickly as possible. Like falling off a horse; you pick yourself up, get back in the game, and do it again—with style—so you can move on. I didn’t do that. I have no idea what went wrong, but ever since I have avoided choux pastry. Call it a fear of chouxing.
I’m not sure what I was worried about, because it never happened. Today I tackled choux pastry again and I am back on the horse. Still slightly spooked, I started with a very small batch of this basic pastry: simply butter, water, flour and eggs. I paid attention as the water and butter came to a boil, and I stirred in the flour until it was well incorporated and slightly cooked. Then, I continued beating the dough off the heat to cool it down; then beat in the eggs until it formed a lovely smooth paste. It took all of about 5 minutes.
I carefully piped rounds onto a silicone sheet, smoothed the tops with moist fingers, brushed them lightly with an egg glaze, and tucked them into a hot oven. I peered and paced anxiously. In no time, the steam from the paste was doing its job, and they were expanding into glorious golden puffs.
Now, that wasn’t so hard after all. What was the big deal, I wondered. Likely I was multi-tasking at the time, and not paying attention. This is an activity that requires due diligence since it comes together so quickly. Today I was prepared, I had all ingredients and steps organized; essential to the success of any project. It was very good lesson and I’m finally moving on.
Although I am highly optimistic, I am still staying with a small batch yield of 12 two-inch puffs. With confidence, I know the recipe can easily be doubled without problem.
Once again the door to choux pastry is open, and I am reminded of the possibilities: choux pastry is the height of entertaining versatility. Lovely cream puffs or éclairs can be filled with pastry cream or whipped cream and dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Long profiteroles can be filled with ice cream and drizzled with chocolate. Small puffs can be filled with flavored mousse, dipped in ganache, and stacked in a tower as a buffet dessert centerpiece…
Savory puffs can be mounded with lobster, crab or chicken salad. Cheese puffs can include a little nutmeg or a grinding of pepper; or the cheese can be varied to manchego or other firm cheese. Small savory puffs can be baked into one large ring, filled with a seasonal green salad and the puffs can be pulled off and enjoyed as a bread alternative…. Ah, the possibilities.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp granulated sugar (optional)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup water
2 lrg egg Egg Glaze
1 lrg egg, lightly beaten
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp water For Cheese Puffs
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment or silicone sheet.
Sift the flour, salt, and sugar if making sweet puffs, and set aside.
In small heavy pan, heat the butter and water until boiling. Remove from heat and add the flour all at once. Return to low heat; beating with a spatula or wooden spoon until mixture is smooth and it begins to come away from sides of pan; about 2 minutes.
Place the dough in a small mixing bowl and beat on low for a minute or two to cool the dough and no longer hot. Add the eggs and continue beating until a smooth, thick and slightly sticky paste forms.(For cheese puffs, add about 1/2 cup grated Gruyere and Parmesan combination with the eggs (reserve the balance for tops).
Fit a pastry bag with a large plain round tip and pipe 1-1/4″ mounds, or drop using 2 spoons, onto baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Smooth any swirls or unevenness with moistened fingers. Brush the tops lightly with egg wash of beaten egg, salt and water. For cheese puffs, finish with an additional sprinkle of grated cheese.
Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees; rotate the pan from back to front, and lower heat to 350 degrees. For cheese puffs, bake an additional 35 minutes, until golden brown and slightly soft inside. For sweet puffs, lower heat to 350 degrees after 15 minutes and bake 40-45 minutes or longer, until amber and dry inside. They can be left in warm oven 10-15 minutes longer to dry further, if desired. Makes about 12 – 2″ puffs.
Notes: Best served same day while crisp. To overt sogginess, when removed from oven cut a slit in each puff on side to release steam build up. The dry puffs can be cooled and frozen. Defrost and reheat at 350 degrees, 5-10 minutes, until crisp.
Serving Ideas: for profiteroles, shape pastry in 1-1/2″ x 1″ with large round tip and bake. Cut each pastry shell in half lengthwise, fill bottom with a scoop (or two) of vanilla ice cream and top with second half. Drizzle each with warm chocolate ganache, and serve immediately.
For cream puffs, fill with pastry cream or whipped cream and dust tops with confectioners’ sugar
For savory puffs, fill with favorite salad: chicken, lobster, etc. Or, make a ring of small puffs and fill the center with green salad of choice and enjoy as a bread alternative.