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West Coast Reuben Casserole

Here's kind of a fun one that plays with the idea of a the famous Reuben Sandwich, yet ... there are no sandwiches and nary a slice of bread in sight!

First, let's talk about a Reuben. Typically Reubens are hot grilled triple beefy stacked sandwiches. Grilled or toasted slices of Rye bread filled with thinly sliced corned beef, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing and sauerkraut. The origins are somewhat disputed, but it's clear that it's an American born sandwich, invented roughly 100 years ago, possibly during a recurring Poker game!

My aim is to reproduce some of the tastes and textures, but without the grains, without the sandwich and without the corned beef (or the corns). Instead, I'm using ground beef, flavored like a traditional corned beef brine. Also, because I'm a West Coast native (California born), I've replaced the traditional Russian dressing with Dijon mustard (a style of Reuben referred to as a "West Coast" Reuben). In place of the rye, I've added some caraway seeds to the sauerkraut, giving us that telltale taste. Finally I topped the whole shebang with loads of grated Swiss cheese, melting down, browning and tying the whole thing together. Perfect!

Juniper Note: I included juniper berries in this recipe, because they're a big part of the flavor in corned beef. However, I also know this is a weird ingredient, hard to find and is likely to just rattle around your pantry if you do track some down. Ultimately, this will be AMAZING with or without the juniper berries, but ... the addition of them WILL bring this that much closer to a true West Coast Reuben taste.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Servings: 6 Servings
Calories: 644.03kcal
Author: DJ Foodie


  • 2 tbsp butter or other cooking fat (lard bacon fat, etc.)
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 4 each garlic clove minced
  • 2 each bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon ground
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground dried juniper berries (optional but kinda important)
  • 2 lbs ground beef (80 lean/20 fat)
  • 1/2 cup dijon mustard whole grain
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 lb sauerkraut drained
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds whole
  • 1/2 lb swiss cheese grated
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste


  • Pre-heat oven to 350 F (177 C).
  • In a large sauté pan, over medium heat melt the butter. Add the onion and garlic and sweat until translucent (the onions and garlic, not you) ... about 3 minutes. Add the cinnamon, bay leaves, cloves, allspice, and juniper berries, with a bit of salt and pepper. Saute for about 2 more minutes. Add the ground beef, with a bit more salt and pepper. Break up and brown the ground beef, until fully cooked. Strain off any excess fat or juices and then line the bottom of a deep 13" x 9" casserole pan (33cm x 23cm x 5cm) with an even layer of the ground beef.
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine the mustard and sour cream. Mix them well and then evenly spread the mixture over the top of the ground beef.
  • Squeeze the sauerkraut between your palms, to remove as much moisture as possible. Evenly spread the sauerkraut over the top of the beef and mustard mixture.
  • Evenly sprinkle the small amount of caraway seeds over the top of the sauerkraut.
  • Evenly spread the grated Swiss cheese over the top of the casserole dish. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cheese is nicely browned and bubbly. Remove and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Slice and serve!


Serving: 6g | Calories: 644.03kcal | Carbohydrates: 10.913333333333g | Protein: 38.136666666667g | Fat: 49.068333333333g | Fiber: 3.4166666666667g