Many thanks to today’s poster Peter of Qui Si Mangia Bene who, aside from taunting me with this sandwich because I once again ate a bowl of Special K for lunch, gets +10 for using the phrase “holy fucking shitballs.” Thank you for the homage, Peter.
It’s good to be back, albeit under difficult circumstances. A few of Michelle’s blogger-type friends are going to fill in for her for a bit while she gets the training wheels back on her psyche enjoys some much-needed RnR. We all wish her the best, and you should too; only somebody certifiable in great need would give someone like me the keys to her blog more than once twice.
In these tumultuous times, I do hope we can all take some inspiration from Michelle, who suffers in private, calling on friends to fill in while she copes. Unlike the less-educated, unfunny, much more offensive nutjobs who now represent and energize the tattered shreds of the GOP, Michelle has wisely opted to lie low for a bit. Are you reading this, Glenn Beck? Bill-O? Rush, baby? Please learn from her example and henceforth have your psychotic breaks in the privacy of your undisclosed bondage dungeons, m’kay?
Now as (our) luck would have it, I’ve been swamped with work lately, and thus have a bunch of unwritten posts on tap for my own, much less popular blog, so we’ll have a good time learning all about the myriad ways in which my dinner- popularity notwithstanding- tasted much, much better than your dinner.
Last week, I took a big hunk of local, grass-fed brisket out of the freezer and plunked it into a big tub of brine (salt, sugar, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, Chinese 5-spice, coriander, mustard seeds, and juniper berries (all the seeds were cracked first) and left it in the fridge for three days. Then, on Sunday, I fired up the smoker with our own apple wood and grape vines, crusted the slab o’ beef with a crushed black pepper-coriander mixture, and let it gently reach 150 degrees in the center. Then I brought it back into the kitchen and had my evil way with it.
Truth be told, it sat, only occasionally molested (read: twice a day) until this evening, when I finally got all the other parts together to make my original idea: a Reuben from scratch.*
*except the Swiss cheese. I don’t make cheese. Yet.
The half-rye sourdough was actually from the day before, and I don’t have pictures, because all my bread pretty much looks the same, and I did not realize when I baked it that I’d be spending all evening writing a certain someone else’s blog for her.
Next on the to-do list was mayonnaise. I make it pretty often, and I’ve figured out how to do it in a foolproof and exceedingly delicious way in the food processor. This batch was pretty normal, as they go: an egg yolk, canola oil, cider vinegar, salt, mustard, and a little white truffle oil for extra depth. Behold how stiff and quivering it got:
After a quick rinse-out, the fo-pro was ready to make ketchup. Something else I prefer to make myself- because it just tastes better, and also because it can be tinkered with to complement a specific dish. In this case, I’ve really been digging the pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika) lately for its astonishing depth of flavor and the instant barbecue aura it imparts to a wide variety of food. And since the pastrami was smoked, it seemed all logical and shit. So this ketchup was canned tomatoes, oil-cured dried tomatoes, roasted red pepper, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, pimentón, and salt all blasted in the processor until thick and smooth.
So mayonnaise “A” gets inserted into ketchup “B” and you’ve got yourself some motherfuckin’ DRESSING, is what I’m saying.**
**See? I told you. It’s in Revelations, people.
Now I also make my own sauerkraut and kimchi regularly, and this time around I had a batch of kraut ready for this unbelievably interesting and exciting event. It’s not the most photogenic of foods, so we’ll just move along. But so as not to deprive you, let’s have another gratuitous shot of my succulent, smoky meat, shall we?
So then it was assembly time. Since I’m not a complete yuppie dipshit tool, I don’t have a panini press, and I make do instead with a cast-iron skillet and two different pot lids. Not that kind of pot lid; what is this, the 70′s? Here is how it works:
You put the little lid on that there sandwich…
…and then the big lid presses it all down real nice. I just saved you like $200. You’re welcome.
Let’s talk about this sandwich. HOLY FUCKING SHITBALLS. With the fatty smokiness, and the melting, and the pickles, and the toasty crunch. My wife, who is an avowed Chicago carnivore, and not overly given to effusive praise of her husband, and LOVES herself a Reuben, rated this a perfect 10. I suddenly realized that the Reuben was invented so that we Jews (when we weren’t controlling international banking and the media, that is) could enjoy a ham and Swiss on rye. Prior to the recent invention of lamb bacon, this right here was as close as kosher ever got to pork. And MY GOD is it good. Besides the fact that making all these things yourself isn’t hard, and even that when you do they taste roughly one million times better than the store-bought versions, what made this sandwich truly superlative, and thus the perfect subject for a guest spot at TNS, was the smug sense of superiority that accompanied every shiny, grinning bite.