An Irish Reuben?

18 Dec 2012

This was too impossible not to share straight away.

I will keep it brief. I’ve been trying to make sense of Irish *spiced beef* ever since I bought a silverside of it on a whim one December afternoon in 2008. It’s meant to be boiled. I’ve done that. Both in water and in stout. It’s meant for Christmas. Why, I am not sure. It’s savoury and clove-y, but not really spicy nor evocative of the holiday season through my expat lens. I have always felt that it was distinctively like pastrami or corned beef in texture and flavour, but when I broached this with friends and family  no one knew what I was talking about. Do people eat it with potatoes? Meh. Or salad? Meh-Meh. Do you eat it warm? Cold? Never could sort it.

Until this week.

On impulse I bought yet another cut of it on Sunday after seeing a tantalizing piece on last week’s Ear to the Ground featuring my butcher friend, Pat Whelan. I had used up the last of our garden cabbage for sauerkraut about 6 weeks ago, and it was prime for the taking. So, I put it all together and made a Katz deli-style reuben.

And, lo and behold, it worked!

I have mentioned before that I am a tried and true sandwich girl. This beautiful creation sent me straight back to deli days in NY. We’ve been eating our “Irish Reubens” all week and when it is gone, we will wait until next Christmas when the spiced beef makes an appearance again because that will make it that much more special. {Unless, I get creative and start to cure my own….mwahahahahaha}

Boil then simmer the spiced beef half an hour to the pound. Leave it to cool completely in the pan…if your house stays cool enough, leave it in the pan overnight for super moist and tender results. It will be beyond gorgeous sliced thinly + paired with a couple wedges of David Tiernan’s Glebe Brethan Gruyere style cheese  + homemade kraut.  Dublin’s Bretzel Bakery’s caraway rye does the trick and of course, good ole’ 1000 island dressing is key. Layer it all up between two slices and grill.

All I can say is: Just Do It.

Christmas Puds and Tipsy Cake are on deck….stay tuned.

Slan Abhaile,


Photo by Imen McDonnell 2012. Book in background Rose Bakery Paris by Phaidon

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12 Responses to “An Irish Reuben?”

  1. Tara C says:

    Had heard about this blog before and glad I finally looked you up – it’s a hoot! Keep up the good work – am all fired up to make Yvette’s bean cocette tomorrow night. Nighty night.

  2. Teila Cashman says:

    I read your piece in the Farmers Journal this week. I’ve been making my own spiced beef for more than 30 years. There really is nothing like a home made spiced beef. I start it around the same time as the Christmas pudding, and our favourite family tradition is spiced beef sandwiches before bed on Christmas eve. It was something my mother always had in Wicklow and it was I who introduced it to my husband’s Cork family!!

  3. Nathalie says:

    Despite living in Ireland my whole adult life, I only tried spiced beef for the first time last Christmas – and was not impressed, thanks to the lack of spice. But this recipe makes WAY more sense. Will definitely be trying it!

  4. Goodness, Imen! I’m drooling like a baby… After seeing The Reuben, I just want to eat one — this specifically.
    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!!! xx

  5. colleenbawn says:

    Just started my Spiced Beef today..its in the fridge covered with delicious smelling spices….made it as a treat for my Cork born husband. First time effort. Plan to eat it on Dec 26th

  6. Emily Kate says:

    This looks delicious! The reuben is my favorite sandwich! Thanks for sharing 🙂 Happy Holidays!

  7. Liana says:

    Thank you for this post! I’ll get my first spiced beef ever this Saturday from James Wheelan (as part of the Xmas hamper) and did not have a clue whar to expect… Looking forward to it now!

  8. Kate Hill says:

    Salted beef in all it’s variation is very easy to make at home. ‘Pastrami’ needs to be smoked, but the brining, spicing and cooking can be done easily at home. Once you make you’re own, there’s no going back… 🙂

    • imen says:

      Thanks so much for your comment Kate! I will definitely give it a go next year! Happy Holidays to you. 2013 could be my year to visit Kitchen at Camont.

  9. Emily says:

    Yum! I’ve never tried spiced beef but I love Reubens – what a great mix of Irish and American!

  10. I love reubens. And things reuben-esque. And rye. And the Rose Bakery cookbook I spy in the corner. You get the idea. 😉

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