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Corned Beef with Muenster Cheese and Wilted Cabbage

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I learned to love corned beef sandwiches from my grandfather, an Eastern European immigrant who used to take me on weekly trips to the Jewish delis in Buffalo. He taught me to look for corned beef that’s not too lean. A little fat makes for a more flavorful sandwich. He also exposed me to handcrafted rye bread from Mastman’s deli in the Polish section of town, a bread I’ve tried hard to re-create at my own bakery. Real rye bread is worth seeking out because it has so much more flavor and character than commercial rye. Commercial rye bread has a beige color and a thin, characterless crust. It is often flavored with artificial caraway flavoring. Real rye bread is made with whole rye flour, so its crumb is darker-gray and brown, not beige. Caraway seeds are kneaded into the dough, and the crust is chewy and thick. My kosher grandfather wouldn’t have dreamed of melting Muenster cheese on his corned beef, but I can’t resist this combination after having enjoyed it in Germany as an adult.

Makes2 sandwiches

CostInexpensive

Easy

Total Timeunder 1 hour

Recipe CourseSide Dish

Dietary ConsiderationPeanut Free, Soy Free

EquipmentPanini Press

MealLunch

Taste and TextureCheesy, Salty

Type of DishGrilled Sandwich, Sandwich

Ingredients

  • 1 cup thinly sliced green cabbage
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • Four ½-inch-thick slices rye bread with caraway seeds
  • 1 tablespoon grainy mustard, or more to taste
  • 12 thin slices (6 ounces) corned beef
  • 6 thin slices (3 ounces) Muenster cheese

Instructions

  1. Combine the cabbage, water, olive oil, salt, pepper, and mustard seeds in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the water comes to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low, cover, and steam, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is very soft and completely wilted, 10 to 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cabbage to a bowl, leaving any excess water in the pot, and set aside.

  2. Heat a panini or sandwich press according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

  3. Spread some butter on one side of each slice of bread. Put the bread, buttered sides down, on a cutting board. Spread mustard on two of the slices. Arrange the corned beef on top of the mustard. Spread an even layer of cabbage over the corned beef. Top with the cheese, then the remaining bread slices, buttered side up.

  4. Put the sandwiches on the press, pull the top down, and cook until they are browned and crisp and the corned beef is warmed through, 5 to 8 minutes, depending on how hot your machine is. Carefully remove from the press and serve immediately

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