Reuben Sandwiches with Traditional Irish Potato Cakes

The best reason for making Corned Beef is to have leftovers for Reuben Sandwiches – of course that’s just my own humble opinion! Corned Beef, sauerkraut, a good Pumpernickel or Marble Rye, a simple dressing of home-made Thousand Island; who could believe these flavors would meld into such a marvelous sandwich?

Reuben Sandwich
Reuben Sandwich

You’ll notice right away that the cost of using Corned Beef Brisket is much less (even with any waste) than buying Corned Beef from the Deli. I’ve priced it as about two pounds, but that weight was before I cooked my Corned Beef Dinner. If you came from that post, this is Meal 2 of a trio of meals made with the same Corned Beef Brisket. The third is Nested Corned Beef Hash Cups, a modern-day twist on Corned Beef Hash, or if you prefer, a Traditional Corned Beef Hash.

The Reubens were about $5.31, plus I served mine with Traditional Irish Potato Cakes (about $1.10 if the potatoes are bought and cooked for the cakes, and not leftover and already counted in the cost of another recipe) and Pickles.

This meal doesn’t qualify as a $5.00 More or Less/Bargain Meal of the week on its own, but taken as a trio of three meals, it certainly does. Either way, it is still pretty frugal and worth every penny! If you’re budgeting and stretching your Corned Beef, these aren’t going to be piled a mile high – believe me, they’re gorgeous, delicious and filling, anyway!

Reuben Sandwiches

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 8 slices Marbled Rye, Rye or Pumpernickel
  • Thin slices of corned beef, almost two pounds
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup sauerkraut, drained and lightly rinsed, if desired
  •  1/2 cup Thousand Island dressing

Preheat  a large skillet or griddle on medium heat.

This is an optional step, but adding a pile of the corned beef and a pile of sauerkraut to the skillet and heating through really helps make sure these sandwiches are wonderfully hot and melty inside. Add a little of the juices the corned beef was cooked in or a a few tablespoons of water, place a lid on the skillet and allow to steam and heat both the corned beef and sauerkraut. When the water has evaporated, remove both piles from the skillet to a plate with tongs, so excess moisture is left behind. Wipe skillet clean and place back on the heat, or wipe off the griddle.

Lightly butter one side of of the bread slices and place four in the pan or on a griddle, buttered side down. If you get out two pieces of bread at a time and “open them” like a book, you’ll always be sure that the edges match up correctly – I hate it when they don’t and when one flips the sandwich to grill the opposite side, the cheese drips out.

Add a slice of cheese, thousand island, sliced corned beef, sauerkraut and top with a bit more thousand island and another slice of Swiss if desired. Top with the last slice of bread, butter side out. Grill slowly (so they will warm through) until golden brown and toasted, several minutes per side, turning once.

Meals Made With Corned Beef Dinner:

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Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

Strategies Applied, meal 2

  • I’m dividing and conquering here: I made a Traditional Corned Beef Dinner, and am using the Leftovers for two more meals. I’ll cost average the corned Beef over three meals – the cost of the Corned Beef is $7.96, divided by thee is $2.86 a meal…although it might be a bit of a “cheat”  since some meals use more Corned Beef and others use less, it’s a great way to break up the cost of budget dinners, and a strategy included in my meal planning.
  • This is the second meal of a trio revolving around the Corned Beef made for Saint Patrick’s Day – The first was the dinner itself, the second Reubens and the third, Hash. Technically, there is really more Corned Beef used the first night, less for Reubens, and even less for the Nested Corned Beef Hash Cups, or Traditional Corned Beef Hash, but hey, that’s what averaging is! The Corned Beef for this meal ran about $3.18, the Reubens, about $5.31 and the pickles a few cents.
  • Bread:  On sale for $2.00 a loaf, an inexpensive substitute would be homemade Irish Soda Bread. The loaf was small, 16 slices, so I’ll count half towards this meal and half towards the hash. $1.00.
  • Cheese:  Cheese is an item that I almost always buy on sale. Often with store specials, coupons and special offers from the producers I can get cheese very cheaply, and sometimes at no cost. I’ll stock up then – if it’s not open, it keeps forever. If I have to freeze, I will sometimes do this – it’s ok when used in a casserole, but not very good for eating. I look for a price of a dollar (or less) for an eight ounce block of store cheese. I used about 3 ounces of  on these, sliced from a block, which is almost always less expensive than presliced. Cost 37 cents. I’ll use about half of it for the sandwiches, and then I’ll use the rest for snacks, a salad, or to make my Chicken Cordon Bleu.
  • Sauerkraut: I bought Frank’s in the two-pound bag. I do think the bagged is a higher quality, and well worth it, but by all means, used canned if that’s all there is in your area. Runza can also be made with Sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is best saved by straining into a bowl, then transferring the Sauerkraut to a clean jar and covering with the brine collected in the bowl. It keeps almost forever in the fridge. A low St. Paddy’s day special runs about $1.75, but a good sale price, around $2.09. About a quarter was used in the Reubens, so cost for this recipe (using the good price) $.52.
  • Thousand Island Dressing:  You do know this is basically the same as McDonald’s “special sauce,” right? I don’t buy it; we’d just end up throwing any extra it out. When I was a teenager I worked in a Mom and Pop restaurant and this is how we made it: Mix some Mayo in a bowl (three to four tablespoons) add a little ketchup until it’s pink, then add some sweet pickle relish. Finely chopped onion may be added, along with a touch of vinegar and/or sugar if you’d like.
  • I hope you bought several jars of Mayo and other condiments over the summer with coupons, or picked some up on sale around Super Bowl, the two times when Condiments are at their lowest. If you didn’t last year, plan on doing it this year. Mayo is cheaper in the jars than the squeeze bottles, by the way; at least at our store the price is the same, but there are several ounces less in the squeeze bottles. (Plus I hate that you can’t get all the mayo out of the squeeze bottle!)  Cost, for the dressing, about 6 cents.
  • Butter:  A bit of a splurge, cost and calorie wise – but for taste and health, I’d rather use real butter than trans fat laden margarine or oils. Yes – they do have trans fat, even if the label says they don’t. Harvard, for instance, says unequivocally: “The key to a healthy diet is to substitute good fats for bad fats and to avoid trans fat.” While butter isn’t a healthy fat, many feel that trans fat is worse than saturated.Buy on deep specials, often around the holidays with store coupons. I shoot for $2.50 a pound and freeze, where it stays fine for months. Cost for this recipe: 2 tablespoons, 15 cents.

Kitchen & Cooking Hacks:

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