Saturday, March 6, 2010

Stori : out of my comfort zone

I am not proud to say that I'm one of the pickiest eaters on the planet. I always have been, probably always will be. My mom likes to joke (but in a serious way) about how growing up the only food I ever actually ate was cheese and sugar. As I've grown older, I've increased my food list quite a bit, but probably not as big as it should be.

On the opposite end of the spectrum from me is my husband, Marc. That man will eat anything! The only food I've found he won't eat and enjoy is Swiss chard. He adventurous food spirit makes him a blast to cook for. Any experimental recipe I can throw at him will receive completely honest feedback. Good or bad.

A couple weeks ago someone in our family mentioned Reuben sandwiches. Marc mentioned how much he loves them. Now I am one of those finicky people that just KNOWS that I won't like something, so I will not ever try it. My mom is the same way. Yogurt has never touched that woman's lips because she just can't stand the thought of it. Corned beef and sauerkraut fall into that category. A couple days after the Reuben conversation, we seen a show on Food Network about corned beef. All the pieces seemed to fall in place yesterday when I went to the grocery store and found a cooler of corned beef brisket. I love to surprise Marc with new food he loves so I figured why not?

That leaves me standing in my kitchen looking at 2 jars of German sauerkraut, a package of Swiss cheese, a loaf of dark rye bread, and a corned beef brisket. There is not a single ingredient that I find appealing. Now what the heck do I do with it? I have a hard time cooking foods that I don't enjoy eating, but I'm willing to try anything.

The corned beef I could figure out on my own. Slow cooking seems to be the key to tender meat. I rinse the excess salt off the roast, wrap it in a tin foil pocket, add some liquid and pickling seasoning. Slow cook at 300* for about 3 hours. Approx. 1 hour per pound.

I now face the sauerkraut challenge. My mom worked in a German cafe when I was a little girl. The lady she worked for always cut the tartness of her kraut with applesauce. That just sounded too vague for me. So I turn to my resident German, Sylvia. My friend Sylvia moved to the US about 20 years ago from a small farming community in Germany. She has her own version of sauerkraut that she claims is fantastic. If any form of pickled/salted cabbage could be fantastic. Per her instructions, I drain and rinse (with water) the kraut in a colander. Using my hands, I squeeze out most of the remaining moisture from the kraut. Transfer to a big pot and cover, till floating, with water. Add 2-3 bay leaves, a couple whole cloves, and a couple tsp beef base. Bring to a boil then turn down heat and simmer for about an hour. Making sure to remove the cloves and bay leaves before serving.

The rest of the Reuben is pretty self explanatory. Butter the outside of the rye bread slices (like a grill cheese), place butter down on a hot griddle, layer with the Swiss cheese, kraut, and finished and sliced corned beef. Top with the other piece of buttered rye and toast.

It was a success! Both my dad and Marc kill a couple of these sandwiches. I forced myself, my mom, and my kids to try all the different ingredients. My mom actually likes kraut, so that part was easy for her. I tried without too much discomfort the corned beef. Salty, and almost jerky like. The kraut, however, about did my daughter and I in. I'm sure as far as sauerkraut goes, it was wonderful. To me, it was REPULSIVE!! Although I was very proud of myself for trying several new foods in one night, I can safely mark on my "never to eat again" list, Sauerkraut.

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