A couple of months ago, my little sister sent me a hilarious exchange from NPR’s Sandwich Monday about Reuben Egg Rolls. I’m pretty sure I haven’t mentioned it here before, but I am straight up obsessed with Reuben sandwiches. As in perilously close to having named one of my children Reuben obsessed. My husband was thinking more clearly and steered me away from it by asking something like, “Would you name one of them Monte Cristo?” Well no, I’m not THAT crazy.
But I remain bonkers over Reubens. There’s something borderline mystically perfect about the crispy rye bread, salty corned beef, briny sauerkraut and creamy Thousand Island dressing that makes me lose all willpower. This particular little sister who sent me the link is just as wacky over Reubens as I am, so I sent her a text: “You know I’m going to have to make these right?” Her response was, “YESSSSS. It worked!”
…And work it did. I finely chopped some leftover baked corned beef, rinsed and chopped sauerkraut, shredded Swiss cheese, and just a pinch or two of caraway seeds to mimic the rye bread. Like Hackney’s in Chicago (the restaurant featured on Sandwich Monday) I decided to leave the Thousand Island as a dipping sauce. Homemade, of course!
I deep fried (duh) but they could’ve been baked, too. Baking would have robbed them of some of that shatteringly crisp egg roll wrapper exterior that I love so dearly, but if your fear of the deep-fryer is standing between you and a batch of Reuben Egg Rolls, I’m advising you to bake them. I’ve included instructions for both cooking methods in the recipe.
I posted a picture of the finished product to Instagram and within two minutes had a triumphant text from my sister that read, “YOU DID IT!” Oh, I surely did. And I’m making a batch to share with her when she comes to visit at the end of the month… She and I will sit and lose ourselves on a platter of Reuben Egg Rolls.
I highly suggest you make far more corned beef than you think you’ll need for Saint Patrick’s Day this coming weekend when all the world is Irish. You might even consider skipping the whole boiled dinner and going straight to these egg rolls for your Saint Pat’s feast. I guarantee you won’t get many objections.
- My husband ate these happily with the Thousand Island dipping sauce, but insisted I tell you all that he really enjoyed them with wasabi, horseradish, spicy brown mustard, and Mae Ploy, just not all at the same time.
- 24-36 egg roll wrappers (not won ton sized)
- 1½ to 2 pounds leftover baked or thickly sliced deli corned beef
- 1 packed cup sauerkraut (preferably not canned)
- 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
- 1 teaspoon caraway seed (optional)
- 2-3 inches of peanut, canola or vegetable oil or shortening in a high-sided, heavy-bottomed pan
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup sweet pickle relish
- ¼ cup minced sweet onion
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
- Use a fork or whisk to combine all of the dressing ingredients. Scrape into a container with a tight fitting lid and let it rest in the refrigerator while you prepare the egg rolls.
- Place the sauerkraut in a colander and rinse over the sink. Squeeze as much excess liquid from the sauerkraut as you can, then transfer it to a cutting board and coarsely chop it so the largest pieces are ¼-inch big. Put this in a large mixing bowl.
- Coarsely chop the corned beef so that the largest pieces are no bigger than ¼-inch. Transfer the corned beef to the mixing bowl with the chopped sauerkraut, add the shredded Swiss cheese and the caraway seed (if using.) Use your hands to toss the ingredients together so that everything is evenly combined.
- Set the mixing bowl next to a clean cutting board that is set up with a small bowl with fresh water in it (for moistening the egg roll wrapper edges) and your pile of egg roll wrappers. On the other side of the cutting board, you should have a clean pan to hold your rolled-but-not-yet-cooked egg rolls.
- Place a single egg roll wrapper with one point facing toward you and one away. Dip your finger in the bowl of water and moisten the two edges farthest away from you. Scoop ¼-cup of the corned beef filling onto the egg roll wrapper just slightly closer to you than the center of the wrapper. You can use your hands to slightly compress the filling together if you find it is too loose. Lift the tip of the wrapper closest to you and fold it up and over the filling. Use this to help compress the filling but do it gently so you don't spring a leak in your wrapper. Fold the points on either edge toward the center like an envelope, then -using your hands to tuck in the edges as you go-, roll the egg roll away from you until the whole thing is a tight cylinder. Try to avoid holes in the wrapper as they can cause leaking melted cheese and therefore splattering during the frying process. Gently press the final edge to help seal it and lay it on the clean pan you prepared for it. Repeat until the filling is used up.
- You will get anywhere between 24 and 36 egg rolls depending on how consistent you are with filling the wrappers and how much snacking you do of the filling while you roll them.
- Bring the frying oil to 350°F. (*See Notes) When it reaches temperature, carefully lower as many egg rolls into the oil as you can fit without overcrowding the pan. The egg rolls should be able to move around the pan as they cook. Cook the egg rolls for about 3 minutes, flipping once or twice with tongs during the cooking, or until they are golden brown. Keep in mind they will darken somewhat when removed from the oil, so don't cook them until they're dark golden brown. You may find some of them don't want to stay flipped when you flip them which would prevent one side from cooking to crispy perfection. If this happens, use the tongs to hold the uncooked side in the oil for a few seconds to help the process.
- Transfer the cooked egg rolls to a pan lined with several layers of paper towels. Let rest for at least a minute before serving with Thousand Island Dip or the dressing or sauce of your choice.. While these are definitely best hot, they are also good at room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray both sides of the finished egg rolls with non-stick cooking spray and lay them -not touching- on a baking sheet. Bake until the wrappers are golden brown and the Swiss cheese is melted inside. While these are definitely best hot, they are also good at room temperature.
- Leftovers can be frozen on a sheet pan then transferred to a freezer bag and reheated in a 350°F oven until heated through.
Originally published March 13, 2013