At The Bagby Restaurant Group, we talk a lot about attention to detail and doing things “the right way.” For us, “the right way” is taking time with our ingredients, preparing them properly, and making as much as we can from scratch. Even each sandwich is given thought and time. The result are dishes that highlight local ingredients and transform individual flavors into a cohesive, savory experience for our guests. Such is the case with TEN TEN’s housemade Corned Beef Reuben.
When creating the TEN TEN Reuben, sous chef Roger Black doesn’t mess around. To start, he uses fresh sauerkraut rye bread, baked daily by Bagby’s Head Baker John Aversa. “The bread is full of good, healthy energy,” Black explains, “It’s a good start to any sandwich, but designed specifically to echo the flavors in the Reuben.”
Black’s next ingredients are the stars of the sandwich, but also the most time intensive – sauerkraut and corned beef. For his sauerkraut, Black uses fresh local cabbage to which he adds salt, juniper berries, and caraway. The juniper and caraway here are especially unique and something that won’t be found in your ordinary can of store-bought sauerkraut. “Our thought was to make the caraway flavor (which is the main flavor in rye bread) carry throughout the sandwich, so we introduced the caraway from our bread into the sauerkraut as well.”
Once mixed together, the cabbage sits for over three weeks, but is turned by hand weekly to make sure that undesirable bacteria doesn’t interfere with the pickling process. This procedure is not undertaken with mass-produced sauerkraut and a detail that Black is particularly passionate about. “It just doesn’t taste the same. There’s not the same level of flavor in that sauerkraut. It’s completely different.” His passion and effort translates into a beautiful ingredient – a slightly sweet, spicy, and tangy sauerkraut accented by the earthy notes of juniper and caraway.
The same care is given to curing the beef brisket for the Reuben’s corned beef. Using modern twists on classic corned beef preparation, each aspect of creating the corned beef is meant to build more and more flavor into the meat. Sous chef Black first prepares a brine of pickling spices, curing salt, kosher salt, cinnamon and brown sugar. The brisket then sits in the brine for two weeks and rotated frequently. This both tenderizes and imparts the brine’s sweet cinnamon flavor to the meat.
When fully cured, the brisket is dried and rubbed with a toasted spice mixture of coriander, black pepper, star anise, sliced garlic, fresh red pepper, mustard seed, and bay leaves. Then vacuum sealed with some of the remaining brine and sous-vide (a slow modern method of cooking in a hot water bath) for 18 hours, the meat builds even more deliciousness as it slowly cooks in herb and spice infused juices.
After being cooked, the corned beef is sliced and piled on top of the Sauerkraut Rye, along with the sauerkraut, swiss cheese, and TEN TEN’s bistro sauce. When you take your first bite, the different layers of flavors are staggering. From the creamy sour of the sauerkraut to the cinnamon-laced corned beef to the caraway accents throughout, each ingredient plays its part in creating a cohesive flavorful sandwich.
There is something about time and care that imparts food with a special essence. Like our grandmother’s thanksgiving supper, when effort is put into a meal, when time is taken, and each detail of preparation is considered, the flavors of the dishes build and so does our appreciation of that meal. It is this deep appreciation for good ingredients and slow, thoughtful preparation that we aim to create in our Reuben, and with every bite that we hope you will savor.