My husband makes the best Reuben sandwiches. Seriously. I am something of a Reuben aficionado, so it’s high praise from me. I adore a well-made Reuben, piled fairly high with corned beef and sauerkraut, melting with swiss cheese and tangy with thousand island dressing. The rye bread needs to be nice and crispy and not too greasy, otherwise the whole thing can become a soggy mess. My husband makes his thousand island dressing from scratch and he adds a little cumin. That might be the secret ingredient (now no longer a secret) that makes his Reuben as good as any I’ve had in a deli. We don’t make them often but when we do, it’s a treat.
The idea of making a calzone filled with Reuben ingredients occured to me quite a while ago. I had bought a bag of rye flour for some bread recipe and only had to use half a cup, and was wondering what to do with the rest of it. Well, yes, I could make some rye bread, of course, and I do intend to do that sometime soon. But an episode of The Phantom Gourmet, a local restaurant review show, featured a place that made monster-size calzones. Somehow, the two things came together in my head. I’d been sitting on the idea for almost a year when I finally mentioned it to my husband. He was gung ho and we began hashing out the details.
The original plan was to stick with corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut and thousand island for the filling. But we both got a little nervous that the moisture content would be too high and would create a gooey, leaky mess that wouldn’t hold together. So we opted for some ricotta and an egg to bind things a little better. I wanted the flavour of the thousand island inside the calzone, but my husband thought it would be better as a dipping sauce. We comprimised and put some inside as well as having it on the side for dipping. The crust obviously had to have some rye flour, and I would have liked to have sprinkled some caraway seeds on top for authenticity, but my local grocery doesn’t carry them and we were too eager to give the recipe a go. I will hunt them up for next time!
The Results These were pretty good. I won’t declare them an absolute success, because I think it may need some tweaking. The ricotta in the filling seemed to dilute the “Reuben-ness” of the other ingredients, and we think it would be better without. The flavour of the swiss cheese seemed to get a bit lost as well. Since the filling wasn’t as messy as we had anticipated, we think that we could eliminate the ricotta and increase the swiss, and get a more authentic Reuben flavour. We also found that we made too much filling, so next time we will work at getting the right proportions.
The crust was very good, although a bit hard to work with. The rye flour seems to make it more fragile and more easily stretched than typical pizza/calzone dough. So word to the wise, it can rip easily when shaping it. Handle with care.
All in all, it was a tasty meal. It doesn’t taste exactly like a Reuben sandwich, since it’s not fried in butter or oil. It has it’s own calzone thing going on. But we do plan on making it again, with some adjustments. I will get back to you on whether or not that improves the Reuben flavour!
Reuben Calzones, Take 1
3 cups all purpose flour
1-1 1/4 cups rye flour
1 envelope rapid rise yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups water, warmed to 110F
Combine all purpose flour, 1 cup rye flour, yeast and salt in a food processor fitted with a dough blade. Pulse to combine.
With the processor running, pour in the oil and then the water through the feed tube, until a rough ball forms. Turn processor off and let rest for 2 minutes, then process 30 seconds longer. If the dough is very sticky, add remaining rye flour, 1 tbsp at a time as needed.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball. Place in a large, lightly greased bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise until about doubled in size, 60 to 90 minutes.
3 – 3 1/2 lb cooked corned beef brisket
14.5 oz can of sauerkraut
8 oz skim ricotta cheese
6 oz shredded swiss cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sweet pickle relish
2 tbsp ketchup
1/2 tsp cumin
1 large egg, separated
dash of hot sauce
Trim fat from brisket and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
Strain sauerkraut, pushing on it to drain as much moisture as possible.
In a medium bowl, combine corned beef, sauerkraut, ricotta, swiss cheese, mayo, relish, ketchup, cumin, egg yolk and hot sauce. Mix well.
Preheat oven to 450F and adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface and divide into two equal pieces. Roll each piece out into a 12 inch circle and transfer to baking sheets.
Mound about 2 cups of filling onto one half of dough round, leaving a 1 inch border around the edge. Beat the remaining egg white and brush some around border. Gently fold the other half of dough round over the filling. Press and crimp edges to seal. Be sure to seal them well to avoid leakage!
Repeat with remaining dough and 2 more cups of filling.
Cut 5 slits in the top of each calzone with a knife to allow steam to escape. Brush the top of each calzone with remaining egg white. Bake calzones for 20 minutes, switching baking sheet positions halfway through. Transfer to wire racks and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
Tim’s Thousand Island Dressing
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tbsp sweet pickle relish
1 tbsp ketchup
1/4 tsp cumin
Mix all ingredients together. Serve as dipping sauce for calzones.