German Deli Food For A Chilly Day!
Cold day? Not feeling great? Try eating something that makes you feel good! Reuben Sandwiches have a way of putting a smile on a face! Warm German Potato Salad is a classic cold weather recipe too.
I learned both these recipes while working at a German delicatessen early in my career. The German deli was only open for breakfast and lunch. The owners were a married couple from Germany. All of the kitchen equipment, spices and specialty food came from Germany. The deli owners took great pride in cooking perfection German deli food just like how it was prepared back in their homeland.
The only problem in that German deli was the kitchen atmosphere. The kitchen had a large open view window to the dining room and the customers could hear everything that was spoken in the kitchen. The husband and wife owners would stop all production in the kitchen, so they could argue with each other a few times a day. These were not typical husband and wife arguments!
The married couple yelled at each other at the top of their lungs and they used some of the most vulgar rotten crude language imaginable! Every degrading word in the book flew through the air and the foul language carried out to the dining room. The German husband and wife arguments were vulgar enough to make mild mannered customers go to church on Sunday!
Many times, the German couple would switch from English curse words to German curse words to disguise the fact that they were cursing. That made no difference, because most English curse words are originated in the old West German Anglo Frisian language or from way back when the German Engs invaded England. At high volume, it was easy to figure out the meaning of the German curse words.
The high volume loud German vulgar cursing in that deli kitchen was a daily routine. I still remember the sound of shocked customers in the dining room dropping their knives and forks on their plates! Customers even knocked over their drinks or spilled coffee because their nerves were wracked and their hands shook!
Needless to say, the German deli restaurant kitchen did not have a quiet pleasant atmosphere. At least one time a day after arguing with each other, the German husband and wife deli owners would glare at me and then start making stereotypical comments about how stupid Americans are! I understood that getting caught up in an argument like this would end in futility, so the best response was to use a little bit of wit.
After catching the first barrage of anti American "ack-ack" from the German deli owners that now acted as a anger fueled team, I just patiently listened to the glaring husband and wife agree with each other by saying "Ja! ... Der Americans are so stupid!" I responded by saying "You Germans think we Americans are stupid? ... Well, what about the Bulgarians?" Then I turned and pointed my finger at the Bulgarian dishwasher across the kitchen. The Bulgarian dishwasher was wearing sandals with black socks, he had the legs of his shorts rolled up, he wore a tight girls rhinestone disco T-shirt and he had a shiny beige vinyl man-purse slung over his shoulder.
The German husband and wife then took their eyes off of me and they just stared at the weird looking Bulgarian guy. The German couple stared at the Bulgarian for a few seconds and then they just shook their heads in disbelief, while saying in complete disgust, "Ja! ... Bulgarians look so stupid! ... Ja! They are much stupider than Americans!" The Bulgarian dishwasher and I then looked at each other and we shrugged our shoulders, laughed a little bit and we continued on with our work.
The dramatic vulgar arguments and degrading language episodes were a daily routine in that German delicatessen kitchen. The arguments were like clockwork, because the dramatic vulgar argument episodes happened at the same time everyday. I asked the German owners about the arguing and cursing one day. The wife said that they had been doing this intense argument act for many years and they really did not mean the crude things that they say. She said that it was their way of relieving stress!
Giving advise to the German deli owners was risky business, so I kept my thoughts to myself. I should have told the German couple that there are far better ways to relieve stress than by releasing energy via loud arguing and rude cursing, but the German couple probably already knew these things.
The food was great in that German deli, but the atmosphere in the kitchen was nerve wracking and the reaction of the customers was embarrassing. Of course, I had good reason to pursue work elsewhere and I did. I did have the composure to learn a few great German cooking techniques and good authentic German deli style recipes while I was there. After all, the husband was a very successful award winning chef when he lived back home in Germany and he deserved the highest respect.
When the German chef taught me how to make the Reuben Sauce, I asked if a Reuben Sandwich was really an American invention. He laughed! The old German chef said, "Reuben Sandwiches have been made in Germany for many years longer than in America." He also stated that his Reuben Sauce was indeed the original German Reuben Sauce. All I could do was agree, because the flavor of the Reuben Sauce was fantastic!
Great sandwich components make a great Reuben! German style 100% rye grain bread with no caraway seeds is the best for a Reuben. Pumpernickel and Black Bavarian Rye Bread are good for making Reuben sandwiches too.
Pastrami is highly seasoned beef that is brined, dry cured and smoked. Thin sliced pastrami is needed for this sandwich. A German deli or butcher shop is the best place to find good quality pastrami.
A top quality imported Swiss Emmentaler Cheese is best. For a milder flavor, American Baby Swiss (Lorraine Swiss Cheese) is a good choice.
Warm German Potato Salad:
This recipe yield 3 to 4 portions!
Step 1: Place 1 pound of small red bliss potatoes in a pot.
Cover the potatoes with cold water.
Boil over medium high heat till the potatoes are fully cooked. (The potatoes should be firm, not mushy!)
Cool the potatoes under cold running water.
Chill the potatoes in a refrigerator to 41ºF.
Step 2: Use the back of a paring knife to scrape the skin off the potatoes.
Cut the potatoes 3/16" thick slices and place them in a mixing bowl.
Step 3: Grill 1 1/2 slices of smoked bacon in a skillet with a few drops of vegetable oil over medium/medium low heat.
When the bacon is crisp and lightly browned, remove the bacon from the pan and set it aside.
*Save the bacon grease for later in the recipe.
Coarsely chop the bacon and add it to the potatoes in the mixing bowl.
Step 4: Place 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar in a small sauce pot.
Add 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar.
Add 2 tablespoons of pickle brine from a jar of imported German Dill Pickles.
Add 3/4 cup of water.
Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon grease.
Add 1 finely chopped green onion.
Add 1 small pinch of ground celery seed.
Add 2 pinches of black pepper.
Step 5: Place the pot over medium low heat.
Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer.
Step 6: Mix a 1 tablespoon of flour with 2 1/2 tablespoons of cold water to make a slurry.
Slowly add just enough of the slurry to the sauce while stirring, to thicken the sauce to a thin consistency that can barely coat a spoon
Simmer and stir for 2 minutes.
Step 7: Add the sauce to the potato slices and bacon in the mixing bowl.Gently toss the ingredients together.
Step 8: Place the potato salad in a small shallow casserole dish.
Bake the potato salad in a 300ºF oven till it becomes hot. (A probe thermometer should read 165ºF to 180ºF.
Keep the potato salad warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.
This recipe yields enough for 1 Reuben.
German wine packed sauerkraut is available at German delicatessens and some grocery stores.
There is no need to rinse wine packed sauerkraut!
Gently heat 1 cup of wine sauerkraut with its own juices in a small sauce pot over low heat.
Keep the wine sauerkraut warm over very low heat.
Drain the liquid off of the sauerkraut before serving.
This yecipe yields enough for 2 sandwiches.
This German Reuben Sauce is rather zesty!
Step 1: Place 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise in a mixing bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon of German Mustard.
Add 2 tablespoons of organic ketchup.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of horse radish.
Add 1 tablespoon of imported German sweet pickle relish.
Step 2: Mix the ingredients together.
Chill for 30 minutes, so the flavors meld.
This recipe yields 1 sandwich.
Step 1: Heat a griddle over medium/medium low heat.
Brush the pan with melted unsalted butter.
Place 5 ounces of thin sliced pastrami on the griddle.
Pour 1 tablespoon of water over the pastrami.
Turn the pastrami a few times as it heats and steams. Let the excess water evaporate.
Step 2: Brush two slices of Black Bavarian Rye Bread with melted unsalted butter.
Place the 2 bread slices on the griddle.
Place 3 or 4 thin slices of Swiss Emmentaler Cheese (or Lorraine Swiss) on the bread.
Step 3: Use a spoon to spread a thin layer of the Reuben Sauce on the cheese on both slices of bread.
Step 4: Place the warm grilled sliced pastrami on one slice of the bread.
Step 5: Place about 1/3 cup of the drained warm weinsauerkraut on the other slice of bread.
Step 6: Grill the bread till it is toasted.
Step 7: Use a spatula to flip the sauerkraut half of the sandwich on top of the pastrami half.
Place the Reuben on a cutting board and slice it in half.
Step 8: Place the Pastrami Reuben on a plate.
Garnish the plate with pickles and Italian Parsley sprigs.
Serve with a portion of the German Potato Salad.
A German deli style Pastrami Reuben is perfect for lunch on a chilly day or when a smile is needed!