You can use any bread you like to make a roast beef sandwich. If you want to follow in the footsteps of the pros, however, there is one choice that reigns supreme. At its core, a roast beef sandwich is comprised of thinly sliced meat and mustard, although it's common to add lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and horseradish -- and the list of ingredients used to upgrade the sandwich includes the likes of gravy, caramelized onions, and giardiniera. But, whether you go for the simpler formula or pile your add-ons high, roast beef sandwiches pair perfectly with rye bread.
The combination is a spin on the classic pastrami on rye sandwich, which is a staple in New York Jewish delis. There is a rich cultural history behind the sandwich, but if we're looking at it from purely a taste perspective, the strong flavors of the roast beef and mustard are ideal for rye bread. The rye slices get their unique taste from caraway seeds, and they have a deep, complex flavor with notes of sourness, nuttiness, and earthiness that both balances out the juiciness of the meat and complements the potent mustard.
The History Of Roast Beef Sandwiches On Rye
While modern-day sandwiches with rye bread have been popularized by classic Jewish delis like Katz's Delicatessen, the bread goes back much further. According to Aish, the earliest mention of rye bread can be found in a Roman diary all the way back to 77 CE. Because rye can grow in less-than-ideal conditions, including rough winters and bad soil, it became a staple for Jewish people living in Eastern Europe and Russia. The bread was officially introduced to the U.S. in 1888 when a Romanian immigrant opened Katz's Deli and began selling the establishment's signature pastrami sandwiches. If you visit Katz's today in New York City, "deli rye" is still the default bread choice for a stuffed-to-the-brim roast beef sandwich.
If you want to try this out at home, make sure to apply your mustard on both slices of bread for maximum flavor. And, instead of regular American yellow mustard, go for a spicy brown mustard (not to be confused with Dijon) for the strong, complex flavors that your rye deserves. When it comes to the roast beef, opt for lean cuts to avoid cold ribbons of fat, since you'll be eating your meat chilled. And, be sure to only roast your beef until it hits 130 degrees for optimal juiciness. You'll end up with a crave-worthy sandwich, the product of a combo that has been perfected over centuries.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.