Ok, now before you go, "Eww...a Reuben pizza, that's gross!", hear me out, because this is actually one of the most surprising pizzas I've ever had.

I discovered this interesting take on pizza while I was attending Penn Tech. The dining unit in my usual building served three pizzas every day: a plain cheese, a pepperoni and what I liked to call the daily weird pizza. (Weird being used here with all due affection). There were all kinds of weird pizzas: barbecue chicken pizza, taco pizza, and chicken alfredo pizza, just to name a few. I got the weird pizza every day without fail (except for buffalo chicken day because that stuff was waaaay too spicy for me). One day the sign said Reuben pizza, and at first I reacted how you guys probably did - "That sounds disgusting" - but in the end, I got it, because I had a personal goal to try all the strange pizzas that the unit was serving.

And man, am I glad I did. Like most people, I was put off at first because I know what goes into a Reuben sandwich (corned beef, Swiss cheese, Thousand Island dressing and sauerkraut, for those of you who are unfamiliar). It's that last ingredient that seems to be the dealbreaker, but in all seriousness, you can barely tell it's there, Girl Scout's honor. (And I was a Girl Scout, so that's a legitimate promise).

I'm going to tell you how to make a Reuben pizza because hopefully I've gotten you curious enough to at least try it. It's really simple to make once you get all the bits and pieces together.

What You're Going to Need:

  • a pizza crust recipe of your choosing (this one best matches the recipe I use, but I suppose it doesn't matter as long as you like it)
  • Thousand Island salad dressing (a regular sized bottle will definitely be enough for a ton of pizzas)
  • Mozzarella cheese (I'd get a decent-sized bag but it depends on how big you're making your crust and how cheesy you like your pizzas)
  • very thinly sliced corned beef (and you won't need much, I can make about three 14 inch pizzas with only 1/4 of a pound)
  • sauerkraut (you can buy the little cans from the store, though my dad makes me make it with the "real" sauerkraut that he makes himself)

What You're Going to Do:

You'll want to get your dough mixed up and starting to rise while you gather up your ingredients and get a couple of them ready to put on the crust. (It's definitely easier to do this now rather than later when you're juggling dough and hot pizza pans).

The sauerkraut needs to be taken out of the can (or bag, or thawed if you bought the frozen kind) and rinsed off. This helps get rid of that overpowering taste that everyone fears. Once you rinse it, you need to squeeze out as much liquid as you can and (I know this'll sound weird) dry it off with a paper towel as best as you can. The dryer your sauerkraut is, the less likely you'll have a soggy pizza.

The other ingredient preparation that'll make putting the pizza together smooth sailing is ripping up the corned beef into chunks. Make them about the size of pepperoni. If they are too small, they're a pain to lay out, but if they are too big, you end up having slices of pizza that only have one giant chunk of topping that gets pulled out after the first bite so there isn't any left. (I hate it when that happens).

Okie dokie, now that your pizza dough has had its time to rise, you need to grab the amount of dough your recipe says will make one crust and grab your pizza pan.

If you're like me, you'll be tempted to try throwing the pizza crust to spread it out and if you can, huzzah, you pizza magician you! But if you end up making a mess (like me) you can try stretching the crust the way my mom's friend Karen showed me how.

Stretching out pizza dough Karen-style (there's probably an actual name for this process but I like this one) is actually pretty foolproof, which is exactly why I use it. What you do first is take a small quarter-sized blob of olive oil and spread it on the pizza pan. After that, all you do is plop your dough in the center, and just press the dough flat and out to the edges of the pan. My pizza dough is usually very springy, so it takes some good stretching to get it to stay at a good size, but this way I don't end up dropping the dough on the kitchen floor. (Like last time...and the time before...).

Anywho, now that your dough resembles a pizza crust, the next step is to bake the crust until it's almost done. The usual cooking temperature for pizza crust is around 450 degrees Fahrenheit (it depends on your recipe). Make sure you poke holes in the crust so it doesn't bubble up. This should take about 10-15 minutes.

Here comes the easy part: putting the toppings on. The layers for a Reuben pizza are as follows:

  • Thousand Island dressing (I tend to put a lot on because I like the taste of it, but use at least enough to cover the crust adequately)
  • a light sprinkling of mozzarella cheese (not too much though, this like a base for the next layer)
  • sauerkraut (put as little or as much as you like, but I wouldn't put too much, because there are other things that need to go on and if you have too much on the pizza, it'll take a long time to melt together)
  • corned beef (same with this stuff, too much will make it hard to cook)
  • Mozzarella cheese (you want to cover up the beef bits pretty well so they don't get all dried out but again, not too much)

Now all you have to do is put the pizza back in the oven. You can tell it's done when the cheese starts to get a little golden brown and everything melts together. (This is also when your crust finishes getting baked, in case you were worried).

And there you have it: that's how you construct a Reuben pizza. I hope you'll give this pizza a chance, because it really does taste good, considering what's in it. My parents are big fans of it: since there isn't any tomato sauce, it doesn't aggravate their tendency to get heartburn. So if my parents (who can tell what night of the week it is by what they are having for supper) got hooked on Reuben pizza, maybe you might too.

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