Monday, April 30, 2012
Reuben Mina and a Cute Story
Jeremy loves Passover, but not for any spiritual reasons.
First of all, there are sodas made with pure sugar, since corn - and thus corn syrup - is forbidden during the holiday. (I almost never buy soda, but it's an annual holiday tradition.) Secondly, my friend Michele makes the most amazing coconut chocolate chip macaroons; she generously gives me a supply each year.
And Passover is also when I serve my Reuben Mina [MEE-nuh], a lasagna-ish dish made with matzah instead of noodles. This isn't kosher, since it mixes meat and dairy products, but it's incredibly good! Let me tell you a little story to show just how good.
As faithful readers know, Jeremy is a connoisseur of Reubens. He will order one if he sees it on a menu, and can rate and rank every one he's eaten in terms of flavor, portion size, tenderness of meat, generosity of ingredients, etc. Just ask, and he'll tell you which ones are his favorites; he'll also tell you which one was the very worst ever (which would surprise many people, but he could rant for days about how it was overpriced and overrated, virtually inedible).
So one day, years ago, when I found rye matzah sitting among the Passover groceries at the store, I bought a box. I had instinctively thought of a Reuben casserole.
I layered the matzah, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing, Swiss cheese and corned beef; I poured egg over it all to bind it together. I baked it until it was golden, melted, and luscious. I served it to Jeremy and to his friend Doug. They loved it.
Then I told them there was some more left in the kitchen, and that they could help themselves to seconds.
Jeremy and Doug looked at me and then looked at each other. The leapt up, they ran to the kitchen. They managed to get stuck in the narrow space between one kitchen wall and the extended countertop. They pushed. They shoved. They were laughing, but they still fought to see who would get to the casserole dish first.
Like something out of a cartoon, they went "pop" past the blockade and ricocheted to the stove. They split the generous quantity of leftovers which would, frankly, have likely offered third helpings. They were happy.
And so, although I couldn't find the rye flavor this year, I had to make a Reuben Mina while using up the leftover matzah now that Passover has ended. How could I not? I approximated the rye flavor with a sprinkling of caraway seeds; it's the caraway flavor that people seem to associate with rye, anyway. And this can be made year-round with plain or egg matzah, which is available at any time.
This dish is easy to make, rich, and satisfying. Trust me - my son is a Reuben expert, and he says "This is (friggin') delicious!"
1 cup Egg Beaters
4 plain or egg matzot (plural of matzah)
1-1/2 pounds sauerkraut, drained
8 ounces Thousand Island dressing
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
4 ounces thinly sliced Swiss cheese, divided
1/4 pound thinly sliced deli corned beef, chopped
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8"x8" baking dish.
Pour 1/4 cup Egg Beaters into the prepared baking dish. Place 1 matzah plus 1/3 of another matzah into the bottom of the dish.
Combine the sauerkraut, dressing and caraway seeds; place 1/3 of the mixture onto the matzah and spread it out.
Reserve half of the Swiss cheese for later. Chop the remaining cheese and combine it with the corned beef. Distribute 1/3 of this mixture over the sauerkraut.
Pour another 1/4 cup Egg Beaters over the corned beef. Place 1 matzah plus 1/3 of another matzah on top.
Place half of the remaining sauerkraut over the matzah and spread it to the edges. Distribute half of the remaining corned beef mixture over the sauerkraut.
Pour 1/4 cup Egg Beaters over the corned beef. Place the last matzah and 1/3 portion of matzah on top. Spread the last of the sauerkraut over the matzah, and top with the last of the corned beef mixture.
Pour the last 1/4 cup Egg Beaters over the casserole, and top with the reserved Swiss cheese.
Bake for 40 minutes until golden and casserole is set. Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting into 4-6 portions.
Makes 4-6 servings.
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