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I find food inspiration everywhere. Sometimes I try new recipes from cookbooks that I own (think Jerusalem or Silver Palate). Often I sample a dish at a restaurant then hurry home to recreate it as best I can. My family and friends email me recipes they like and want to share. Or I might pick up a magazine while getting my haircut and find gorgeous pictures of tempting food I immediately want to try.
From time to time, however, I find myself creating recipes with no discernable inspiration … aside from my imagination. For no reason at all, I recently came up with the idea of constructing a pizza based on a Reuben sandwich — you know, corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, thousand island dressing, mustard, rye bread… I LOVE Reuben sandwiches but I rarely have them – I’m picky and will only order them at great places such as Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, Michigan or a top notch deli. And they’re not exactly en vogue …definately forbidden for those who are gluten free, dairy free, paleo, low cal or kosher — no siree! I have no food restriction in my life, but I eat a Reuben only once or twice a year.
I recently had a hankering to make homemade pizza. Nothing atypical about that, right? What I find a little bit embarrassing to admit – I pictured topping the pizza with all the ingredients for the sandwich plus using caraway seeds. Embarrassing because WHEN THE THOUGHT OCCURRED TO ME, I WAS MIDWAY THROUGH A YOGA CLASS. So much for being in the moment and focussing on my breath. I was focussed on what I could eat that night. And it just so happened that I had recently made a small corned beef right after St. Patrick’s Day. It was sliced and ready to go but the thought of just plain old corned beef with all the fixings or corned beef sandwiches didn’t sound that great. And corned beef on top of greens, grains or just salad? No thank you!
Anyway, I hopped in the car and jotted this down on the way home. With my own corned beef, how far off could I be? Later on, ut of curiosity, I googled Reuben pizza to discover, alas, that there really is nothing new out there – just recreations and tweaking of basic concepts. That being said, I love the version I made, which was honestly exactly what I wanted and crafted from my head before I did a Google search!!
Makes one average (12-14 inch) pizza
- 1/2 cup warm water (110 F – 115 F)
- 1 ½ tsp honey
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast such as Red Star
- 1 1/2 cups bread flour (Gold Medal Better for Bread is fine)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons whole caraway seeds to top the dough
In a medium bowl, mix warm water and honey with a whisk and sprinkle yeast over the top; stir to dissolve. Let this stand five minutes until the liquid bubbles. Add oil, salt and finally one cup of the flour. Stir in as much flour as it takes to form a ball, then turn out onto a floured counter and knead for five minutes – adding flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the counter. Put this ball of dough into a clean oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in volume (about one hour). 15 minutes before the hour is up, preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Knead the dough for a couple of minutes, then cover it with a towel and let it rest for five minutes. This makes it easier to roll out. I start with a rolling pin and after a bit I push the dough into a 12-14 inch round circle, which is a little on the thick side. Place the pizza onto a well oiled pizza pan and sprinkle the top of the pizza with the caraway seeds. Press the seeds into the dough with your hands. Place the pan into the center of the oven until slightly brown (about nine minutes). When you take out the crust, reduce the oven to 350.
Meanwhile, get the rest of your topping ingredients ready: (I put this on in the following order:
- ⅓ cup Thousand Island salad dressing (I make mine but you can buy it too).
- 10 oz strips of corned beef (I used homemade but high quality deli meat is OK)
- 1 ½ cups (¾ lb) good sauerkraut (I bought this in the refrigerated section of my supermarket)
- 8 oz shredded Jarlsberg Swiss cheese (you will see from the pictures I used slices but next time I’m doing shredded so it melts better)
- 1 ½ Tbsp extra olive oil to drizzle on top
I make the pizza just the way I like my reuben sandwiches: a skim of thousand island dressing, a lot of corned beef, a fair amount of sauerkraut, and a layer of melted swiss cheese – but not so much cheese that it overpowers the meat.
Once the toppings are layered, I bake the pizza at 350 for an additional 5-10 minutes until the cheese is really melted.
When the pizza is out of the oven, rest it for five minutes then slide the pizza onto a cutting board and cut into wedges, I serve it with a squeeze bottle of yellow mustard, fancy deli mustard, halves of dill pickles and creamy cole slaw. If you close your eyes, you’ll know you are eating a reuben…pizza.
Sooooooo good and fun to make.