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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


When forced to cook, Reuben never fails

It is often said that a chef’s favorite food is anything that he doesn’t have to cook himself. I have personally subscribed to that tenet for years and it was no different as I went to meet a friend of mine last week for lunch at Sneaky Pete’s last week; the dock bar at Hooper’s on the Bay.
The breeze was perfect on that smoking-hot day as was the entertainment, which was kayakers – more precisely people kayaking for what was likely the first time – in the strong currents off of Skimmer Island. Charter boats would motor up-current, shut down and then drift with lines cast-out for flounder. It was a nice reminder as to why this is such a beautiful place to live.
As I was eating my Key West Reuben, my buddy asked if the family was still going to Hawaii in the near future. When I replied in the affirmative, he laughed and shook his head. When I inquired as to the basis for his amusement, he merely stated that he was concerned for me, as I am still as pale as I was in January.
You see, we’ve had an awfully busy summer. Not to delve into things, we haven’t had time to linger outside or mosey down the boards. Truth be told, we’ve only been to the beach once in 2015. It has just been one of those years. Ergo, we have maintained our pasty hue throughout, except for our oldest who just happens to be a lifeguard. But not to fret, this is why they make SPF 80 … just for people like us.
As we talk and reminisce on old time, a strong breeze is blowing off of the ocean, reminding me of what it’s like in the Tropics and getting excited for the trip, which is not too far off. The Tropics in August will be beautiful albeit hot (no denying that), and my wife and I will renew our vows after 17 1/2 years of marriage. In attendance will be her mother, my aunt and all of our children plus one girlfriend (not mine, mind you … our oldest child’s).  
As we sit in Sneaky Pete’s, Ryan the manager comes over to speak to us. We laugh at the kayakers getting sucked out to sea (not really, but the struggle is mildly entertaining) and then we start talking about roasting beef, one of the most revered of all practices in the kitchen. If there’s one thing that everyone should know how to do properly, it’s how to roast beef.
It all starts with the cut of meat, and if you try to roast a rump roast without any kind of preparation, you will be chewing on shoe leather. Similarly, if you simply try to roast a brisket to medium rare without sous vide, again you will have a texture akin to a rubber ball.
A good rib loin or strip loin, however, is a great beef for roasting, but they can cost a bloody fortune; pun intended. But most of us can’t afford these cuts, so it’s off to the lesser cuts to make the magic happen. And along comes the beef knuckle.
Also called the peeled knuckle or sirloin tip (I’ve written about tri-tip in the past), this roast is affordable and fantastic if you take your time with it. After seasoning, sear the garbage out of it on all sides, and slide it into an oven set to 275 or 300, depending on how much time you have. Depending on the size of the knuckle, your roast will be done in an hour and a half or so, so start checking it at an hour. Make sure that you get your internal temperature to 135 and then let it rest for thirty minutes before slicing, or chill if serving cold.
But back to the story, a great lunch on the water fits the bill in almost every case. There’s just something about an island, even if it is just Skimmer Island, and I can’t wait to be on another one soon, sunburnt and eating someone else’s food.
Key West Reuben
Serves 2 sandwiches
4 pcs. Marble Rye bread
Romaine leaves, as needed
Four slices beefsteak tomato
1# Medium Rare roast beef, thinly sliced
2 slices of good Provolone cheese
4 Tbsp. Thousand Island dressing (recipe follows)
1/2 c. Homemade Coleslaw (recipe follows)

If you like your bread toasted for these, then by all means toast away. I like mine with a good, hearty marble rye that doesn’t need toasting. The preference is yours
Start the sandwich by spreading the dressing on both pieces of bread
Stack the beef, then add the cheese, lettuce, tomato and coleslaw
Serve with kettle chips and a kosher spear
Thousand Island Dressing
1 c. Mayonnaise
1/4 c. Ketchup
2 Tbsp. Chili sauce
1 Tbsp. Sherry vinegar
1/4 c. Chopped dill pickles
Sugar, salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and allow to sit in the icebox for at least three hours, and preferably overnight
Homemade Coleslaw
3 c. Shredded cabbage
1/2 c. Shredded carrot
1/2 c. Shredded red cabbage
1 c. Mayonnaise
2 tsp. Yellow mustard
1/4 c. Red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Celery seed
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and serve immediately, ensuring to eat within 24 hours (as long as it is refrigerated and handled properly.