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Dec 23, 2014
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WINE WITH…Baked Reuben

In the spirit of “play with your food,” we recently came up with a dish that is essentially a deconstructed Reuben sandwich. We took the basic ingredients of the all-American lunch favorite and reformed them into an enticing dinner entrée. Our baked Reuben is easy to prepare and informal enough to serve for a weeknight family supper, but it also makes a delicious, wine-friendly (and fun) dish to enjoy with friends. It can be assembled ahead of time if desired and popped into the oven 45 minutes or so before serving.

Baked Reuben

Serves 4-6

About one pound sauerkraut
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon juniper berries
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons gin (optional)
1 pound sliced corned beef
1/3 cup ketchup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
2 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
2 slices rye bread
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°

Rinse the sauerkraut in cold water and squeeze out excess liquid. Spread the sauerkraut in the bottom of a 9X13” baking dish and sprinkle with caraway seeds and juniper berries. Pour in the wine and optional gin. Tear the corned beef into shreds, bite-sized and larger, and spread over the sauerkraut.

Whisk together the ketchup, mayonnaise and pepper. Spread this sauce over the corned beef and top with the shredded cheese.

Tear the bread into rough pieces and whiz them into rough crumbs in a food processor. Heat the butter in a skillet and add the olive oil and breadcrumbs. Stir until the crumbs have absorbed all the oil; then sprinkle them over the top of the cheese. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the dish is hot and bubbling and the crumbs have browned.

* * *

This turned out to be more of a white than a red wine dish--with one important caveat. The wine needs to show little or no oak and have zesty acidity in order not to seem sour. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a couple of wines from Alsace, where sauerkraut reigns supreme, paired exceptionally well with it. But then, so too did other wines from other places, so long as they fit the basic profile outlined here.

Selection

Approx. Price

Comments

Adelsheim, Willamette Valley (Oregon) Pinot Gris 2013

$20

Lush without being oaky, and full of summer fruit flavors, this perennial winner from Adelsheim complemented the Baked Reuben very well. Its soft texture echoed the dish’s cheesy character, while its firm streak of acidity kept everything in harmonious balance.

Domaine Siglas, Santorini (Greece) Assyrtico 2013

(Imported by Diamond Importers)

$25

Fresh and bracing, with vivid citrus fruit flavors, this wine provided a vibrant foil to the rich, creamy dish. Since we usually think of Assyrtico as more of a seafood wine, we were surprised by how well it performed in this pairing.

Dr. Konstantin Frank, Finger Lakes (New York) Rkatsiteli 2013

$15

Made with a grape variety native to Georgia (the country, not the state), this completely dry wine offers vivid granny smith apple and citrus flavors. Sipping it lightened and enlivened the dish.

Domaines Schlumberger, Alsace (France) Gewurztraminer “Les Princes Abbés” 2012

(Imported by Maisons Marques & Domaines)

$18

A touch of honey and spice in the bouquet leads to a wine that is dry on the palate, with all of Gewurztraminer’s characteristically exuberant flair. We often find this a difficult variety to pair with food, but it seems to love sauerkraut, and so worked beautifully with this dish.

Willm, Alsace (France) Riesling Grand Cru “Kirchberg de Barr” 2012

(Imported by Monsieur Touton)

$22

Ever so slightly sweet, with white fruit flavors and a steely backbone, this Riesling has the heft and body to hold its own with a rich dish like this one. The match tasted sumptuous.