While doing some creative thinking about what to do with the left over corned beef from St. Patrick’s Day I took inspiration from a recipe that Mom has been baking for years. She introduced us to cabbage pies, or bierocks, more years ago than I can remember. Bierocks are simply pastries filled with cooked and seasoned ground beef, shredded cabbage and onions, baked until the pastry is golden brown. These meat-filled pocket pastries originated in Eastern Europe, possibly in Germany or Russia, and were brought to the United States in the 1880s by German Russian Mennonite immigrants. They are such a family favorite that she continues to bake them to this day, sending them home to be enjoyed by her children and their families!
My thought was to do a variation on a theme and create a Reuben sandwich in a German dark rye bun, the filling consisting of thinly sliced corned beef, sauerkraut and grated Gruyere cheese, accompanied with a dash or two of French’s yellow mustard and a generous dollop of homemade Russian dressing. As the creative wheels were turning I could tell that Dayton was more than a bit skeptical of my brainchild… until he took his first bite! We’re planning to enjoy corned beef again this evening and, without a doubt, there will be more Reuben Sandwich Rye Buns on the menu later this week as we tackle tonight’s left-overs! Since we were able to eat only one at a sitting I was concerned as to how they would reheat. This recipe makes six generous servings and I discovered that the best way to treat the remaining buns was to refrigerate them in a Ziploc bag, remove them from the refrigerator an hour or two before serving time, then place them on a baking sheet, cover loosely with foil and heat in a preheated 400° oven for 20 – 25 minutes. The filling was piping hot… and the buns were as crisp, fresh and delicious as the day they were originally baked!
Reuben Sandwich Rye Buns
To make the German dark rye bread combine in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle:
- 1-1/2 C all-purpose flour
- 1/8 C unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1-1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1-1/2 tsp salt
- 1-1/2 tsp caraway seeds
In a Pyrex measuring cup or bowl combine:
- 1/4 C molasses
- 1-1/2 T unsalted butter
- 1-1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 T vegetable oil
- 1 C water
Heat in the microwave on high until warm (110° – 115° F), approximately 30 – 45 seconds:
Add the warmed liquid to the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to high and beat for 3 minutes:
Exchange the paddle for a dough hook and add:
- 1- 3/4 C (scant) rye flour
Knead until a soft dough forms and just begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, approximately 5 – 6 minutes. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead an extra turn or two. Shape into a ball and transfer to an oiled or buttered bowl:
Cover with film and allow to rise in a warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, approximately 1 – 1-1/2 hours. Preheat the oven to 375°. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing.
Combine in a medium bowl:
- 3/4 C mayonnaise
- 1/4 C creme fraiche
- 1/2 C chili sauce (we recommend “Homade”)
- 1 heaping T Spicy Chipotle Relish
- 1 T finely minced red bell pepper
- 2 green onions, green leaves excluded, finely minced
- 2 heaping tsp bottled horseradish
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 generous dashes Louisiana-style hot sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 generous T fresh Italian parsley, finely minced
Mix well to thoroughly combine. Refrigerate an hour or two to allow the flavors to meld before use. Continue on with the bread.
Baker’s Note: For added flavor, time permitting, allow the dough its first rise in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature before continuing, approximately 3 – 4 hours. The long, slow rising time DOES add great flavor!
Punch the dough down and divide into six equal portions, shaping each into a ball:
Roll each ball into a 5-1/2″ – 6″ circle. In the center of each add:
- 1 T (generous) homemade Russian dressing
- grated Gruyere cheese
- well-drained and squeezed sauerkraut
- a dash or two of French’s yellow mustard
Chef’s Note: The amounts of Gruyere and sauerkraut are completely subjective! 2 – 3 tablespoons of each would be a good approximation. Simply use good visual judgment. Just be sure that the total ingredient amount doesn’t prevent you from surrounding it all with the rye dough when it is encased, otherwise you will have unwanted leaks while baking.
- thinly sliced corned beef
Chef’s Note: For this recipe I used approximately 1 – 1-1/4 lb of corned beef, which was perfect for six buns.
Brush the edges with:
- egg wash (1 large egg whisked with 1 T water)
Pull the edges up over the corned beef and press together to seal:
Turn each bun over so that the seams are on the bottom and shape each bun with cupped hands:
Place the buns on a parchment-lined sheetpan, cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm draft-free place for approximately 45 minutes:
Just prior to placing in the oven brush each with egg wash:
Bake in the preheated 375° oven for 20 – 25 minutes. Serve piping hot with coleslaw and a dill pickle spear. And, by the way, a cold beer in a chilled glass goes nicely with this too… Bon Appetit!
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