I don't know why I've been so obsessed with this; I've never even HAD a Reuben, vegan or otherwise. Maybe it's just because it looks and sounds so good
Anyway, this weekend is rainy and muggy, and we're enrolled in dog training, so no vegan Reuben at a restaurant this weekend. I've decided to just plunge right in and start working out the recipe based on descriptions of the animal-based recipe.
Here are some tips from a recipe for a traditional Reuben:
Modern-day Reuben sandwiches are often open-faced and broiled, which dries out the corned beef and makes the cheese rubbery. Or, under the misguided belief that more is better, they are overstuffed. The main things to remember for a great Reuben are to keep the filling under control and in balance, so when you bite into it you get a harmonious and succulent mouthful; and to grill the sandwich slowly and under some pressure, so the bread gets toasty brown and buttery crisp, the meat gets warmed through, and the cheese is just melted enough to be oozy.
OK. So, this all pretty much translates to a vegan version: no broiling, no overstuffing, balance, slow grilling, pressure, crisp-warm-oozy. Sounds good! Now, all we need is a recipe.
Bread, vegan margarine and sauerkraut are all pretty easy to come by, so the two major obstacles would seem to be the vegan corned beef and the Russian dressing.
Let's start with the corned beef.
There are vegan corned beef recipes all over
, so you could try one of those; alternately, you could probably use something like Lightlife Steak-Style Smartstrips
. Or, you could try this one, which requires a steamer, but which I think would be just about right:
Vegan Corned Beef
- 1/2 cup chickpeas
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp dried mustard
- 4 dried juniper berries, crushed into powder (optional)
- 1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
Get water on its way to steaming in your steamer
1. Place chickpeas in a food processor and process until smooth. Add everything else except the wheat gluten and process.
2. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the wheat gluten with a fork. Knead for a minute or so to get everything mixed.
3. Shape into a rectangle (about 8" x 5") and wrap in foil. Double fold the seams so the seitan will steam properly.
4. Steam for 45-60 mins. The seitan must swell against the foil, so make sure that happens before you remove it from the steamer.
5. Let cool briefly, then thinly slice for the sandwich.
OK, so let's say you don't have a steamer, but you still want a more hands-on method or you don't like pre-fabbed not-meats. How about this?
To make corned "beef", all you need to do is a make brine (salted water) and soak seitan in it overnight. So take these ingredients:
6 cups of water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cloves
3-5 bay leaves
1 tablespoon juniper berries (optional)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon all spice powder
2 packages of seitan
Pour all ingredients except the seitan into a pot and boil for five minutes. Set aside to cool.
Pour the brine into a plastic bowl and add the seitan. Put into the refrigerator overnight to brine.
To prepare the seitan for use in the sandwich, remove it from the brine, dry it on a paper towel, then slice thin.
NEXT: Vegan Thousand Island Dressing!