I’ve mentioned previously how my P.S. took it into his head to challenge me to make a Reuben Lasagna. He is the corned beef fan and he was dreaming of layers of corned beef, sauerkraut and a rich Swiss cheese sauce. Since we’d had dinner out on St Pat’s Day, I made oven braised corned beef the next week. The following day the Reuben Lasagna challenge began!
I started by boiling my lasagna noodles in salted water until they were nice and tender. I didn’t want them al dente as there wouldn’t be much liquid in the dish to finish cooking as they usually did in a regular lasagna with a tomato sauce. When they were done I ran cold water over them to stop the cooking and let them drain in the colander.
It was a large can of sauerkraut and I didn’t want to use it all. I put it into a strainer and pressed as much of the liquid out of it as possible. I ended up using about 2/3 of it for the lasagna.
To make the rich cheese sauce we were dreaming of I made a roux with 4 tablespoons of butter and 4 tablespoons of flour. When I’d cooked the flour flavor out for a few minutes, I added a few shakes of garlic powder and 3 cups of chicken broth. I stirred the sauce until it was thickened and smooth. I used chicken broth instead of milk as I’m lactose intolerant and like to avoid milk if possible. You could totally use milk in the sauce if you prefer. It was very rich with the chicken broth.
I added 2 cups of Swiss cheese to the sauce and stirred until it was melted and smooth. I set it off the heat and started the layers of the lasagna.
I’d sprayed the baking dish well so it was ready for a layer of lasagna noodles. My dish was wide enough for 3 noodles for each layer with a little trimming on the ends. I’m almost embarrassed to admit I used my kitchen shears to trim the noodles so they fit perfectly with no bending or overlapping. It’s the perfectionist in me that comes out at these times!
The next layers were 1/2 of the diced corned beef and 1/2 of the sliced green onions.
I spread about a cup of the sauerkraut next, topped with 1/3 of the cheese sauce. I had to use my small offset spatula to spread the cheese sauce evenly since it was firming up as it cooled.
I’d saved the rye bread croutons to put between the two layers of cheese, hoping they wouldn’t absorb much moisture. It was actually a good idea, that worked we later discovered. The shredded gouda was sprinkled over the dish next, finishing the first layers.
I repeated the steps for a second layer, nervously eyeing the height of the lasagna. My baking dish wasn’t all that tall and I did not want it to overflow into my oven and make a mess I’d have to clean (by pressing the cleaning button).
I finished the lasagna with a layer of noodles (neatly cut with my shears!), a layer of cheese sauce and the rest of the shredded gouda. I wanted to cover the lasagna tightly with foil for the first hour, so I sprayed a sheet of foil and placed it sprayed side down over the dish. Although it doesn’t prevent the cheese from sticking totally, it doesn’t stick as much and it is easily removed.
I slid the dish into my preheated oven and place a foil covered baking pan under it, just in case. I wouldn’t have had to do that, it didn’t overflow after all. But it’s nice to have a backup plan just in case.
After an hour I removed the foil and let the lasagna bake for another 30 minutes. When the timer buzzed the lasagna was bubbling around the edges and I was impatient for it to be done. I turned the broiler on and let it brown for a few minutes as I watched. Hey, we were hungry! And it was smelling so good we were almost licking the window of the oven.
I let the lasagna rest for 15 minutes while I tossed a salad of lettuce and cucumbers and a buttermilk dill dressing. I carefully served the lasagna pieces and we admired the beauty of the layers and the oozing cheese. As we chewed our first bites we were moaning. Lots of moaning. This was the best lasagna EVER! I think it’s better than a regular lasagna and I’m not usually a Reuben fan. The richness of the cheeses, the perfectly cooked noodles, the pop of rye bread flavor- it was beyond delicious!
There was just the right amount of sauerkraut in the lasagna; it didn’t overpower the over flavors. I had about a cup leftover that I hadn’t used, as well as some sliced corned beef and slices of Swiss cheese. My P.S. would be having actual Reuben sandwiches with the rest of the leftovers for lunch. And of course we had leftover lasagna to eat for future meals. (It was even good cold, at midnight, she says with a whisper. Hey, Mario Batali makes midnight sandwiches out of his cold lasagna. It’s a thing!)
2 cups corned beef; diced
lasagna noodles: enough to make 3 layers in your baking dish of choice (I made 11, used 9)
27 ounce can of sauerkraut (I used Frank’s); drain and squeeze out as much liquid as possible
6 slices rye bread; cubed
2 cups gouda; shredded
1/4 cup green onions; sliced thinly
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups chicken broth or milk
2 cups Swiss cheese; shredded
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray 9×9-in baking dish or comparable size.
Cook lasagna noodles according to box directions. You’ll want them fully cooked, not al dente. Rinse with cold water to stop cooking and leave setting in strainer.
While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add flour, stir and cook for 4-5 minutes to cook the raw flour flavor out. Stir in garlic powder. Add broth or milk and stir until mixture is thickened. Add 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese and stir until smooth and melted. Remove from heat and set aside.
Dice the corned beef and green onions. Place sauerkraut in strainer and press as much liquid out as possible.
Layer noodles in baking dish, covering the bottom. Spread 1/2 of the diced corned beef and 1/2 of the green onions. Spread about a cup of sauerkraut over the corned beef. Spread 1/3 of the Swiss cheese sauce over the sauerkraut using a knife or small offset spatula. Layer 1/2 the rye bread cubes, 1/3 of the shredded gouda.
Repeat layers one more time ending with a final layer of noodles, the last 1/3 of the Swiss cheese sauce and the last 1/3 of the shredded gouda.
Spray a sheet of foil with cooking spray and place sprayed side down over the baking dish and seal well. Bake in the oven for one hour.
After an hour, remove the foil and bake 30 – 45 minutes more. Cheese will be lightly browned and bubbling. (For a quicker finish, I baked it for 30 more minutes then turn on the broiler for a few minutes to brown the cheese, watching it closely.)
Remove from oven and let set for 10 – 20 minutes to set up before cutting into serving sized pieces.