How To Make Sure The Cheese Melts On Your Reuben Sandwich

According to Nebraska's state website, the Reuben sandwich originated at the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha, conceived by local grocer Reuben Kulakofsky during a poker game. The sandwich proved to be a hit with the players, so hotel owner Charles Schimmel added it to the menu of the hotel's restaurant, which was run by his son Bernard Schimmel. However, Eat This Not That says that New York restauranteur Arnold Reuben laid claim to the sandwich. One thing not argued: It was Kulakofsky's concoction that's become the classic Reuben, made with corned beef and melted Swiss cheese, topped with sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing on grilled rye bread.

When it comes to the cheese, Fine Cooking says Swiss cheese, a lower moisture cheese, has a melt point of 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hotter than higher moisture cheeses like mozzarella and Brie, which melt super easy. While not as tough to melt as a hard cheese like Parmigiano-Reggiano, The Spruce Eats considers Swiss a semi-hard cheese, but with good melting properties since its fat content doesn't separate, leaving oily blobs in its wake.

Crafting a Reuben for optimal cheese melt

While Saveur recommends keeping the corned beef layer not more than an inch or two thick to ensure it heats through and helps melt the cheese on the sandwich, Serious Eats advocates for deconstructing the sandwich and pre-heating both the corned beef and the sauerkraut, as well as pre-grilling the bread, before assembling, which will aid the melt.

To start, Serious Eats suggests wrapping the corned beef in foil with a bit of water and popping it into the oven to gently steam-heat the beef without drying it out. Meanwhile, heat the sauerkraut on the stovetop with a bit of water. Pre-grill one side of two slices of bread, letting one side remain soft, which will help hold the sandwich together. Once everything is heated, spread Thousand Island (or Russian) dressing on the un-toasted side of a slice of bread and add the drained corned beef and sauerkraut, topping with Swiss cheese. Slather more Russian dressing on the other slice of bread and layer more Swiss. Use that bread and cheese combo as the sandwich topper, effectively creating two layers of cheese and pop in the oven until the cheese is thoroughly melted.

For a spin on the classic sandwich, you can adapt your Reuben with turkey instead of corned beef or kimchi in place of sauerkraut.