Red Zone Reuben Bites

To host a memorable Super Bowl party, the easiest route to a touchdown is via your kitchen. Perfect finger food can stand out amid the cheese dips, wings, and meatballs of the world.

When creating these Reuben bites, I stick to the traditional recipe: rye bread, corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and a dollop of Thousand Island dressing. What makes them stand out is personal flair. A great sandwich starts with great bread. I like country rye from Lorenzo’s — the East Side bistro pre-slices it for you. My ace-in-the-hole with this recipe, however, is the homemade corned beef. Similar to pickling or brining, corned beef brisket requires patience. It’s well worth the effort. The spice of the rye paired with the pungency of the cheese makes for a great first flavor combo. Juxtapose that against the tang of the sauerkraut, combine it all with the hearty delights of the corned beef, and you have a memorable bite-size success story.

— Eli Haddix of Evansville has worked in the restaurant business for 13 years.

Reuben Bites

•  1 gallon water
•  1/2 cup sugar
•  2  cups sea salt
•  4-5 pounds beef brisket
•  1/4 cup table salt
•  Large (2 gallon) storage bags
•  4 tablespoons saltpeter, aka potassium nitrite for color (optional) *available online and in most local drugstores

These ingredients will be added one-half at a time:
•  4 bay leaves
•  1 teaspoon peppercorns
•  4 teaspoons pickling spices
•  4 garlic cloves, halved

In a large saucepan, heat the water, sea salt, and sugar until dissolved.

Meanwhile, wash the brisket, pat it dry, and then rub in the table salt. Place in a glass bowl or baking dish deep enough to allow the entire brisket to be submerged. Do not use metal; it will react with the pickling. Pour the seasoned water over the beef, covering it completely. Add half the amount of the bay leaves, peppercorns, pickling spice, and garlic cloves.

In order to completely submerge the beef you must weigh it down. Get creative! I’ve used plates, jars of jam — you decide.

The next step is both the easiest and hardest. Leave it alone! For 2-2 1/2 days. I know it’s hard to be that patient, but it’s worth it.

When you remove the beef, wash it thoroughly, and then add it to a pan of boiling water with the other half of each spice. Cover and simmer for approximately 3 1/2-4 hours. For the Reuben bites you’ll only need about 1 pound of thinly sliced beef, but use the rest to your heart’s content.

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