This Is The Perfect Bread For Your Roast Beef Sandwich

When it comes to crafting the quintessential roast beef sandwich, the choice of bread is paramount. For aficionados of this classic deli staple, rye bread emerges as the uncontested champion, particularly in the bustling milieu of New York City's venerable delis. Katz's Delicatessen, an institution that has been synonymous with Big Apple cuisine since the late 19th century, swears by rye bread for its sandwiches. Mashed spoke with Jake Dell, the fifth-generation owner of Katz's — one of NYC's oldest delis and one of the absolute best delis in the U.S. — about how the iconic shop's commitment to making rye bread a menu mainstay is deeply rooted in culinary logic.

There are several reasons why you should eat more rye bread, including that it is good for digestion. However, from a taste perspective, the most important is that it pairs beautifully with succulent, savory fare like roast beef. Rye bread offers a subtle yet essential counterpoint to the robust flavor of roast beef. Dell articulates this balance by noting that rye's lighter flavor complements the heaviness of most deli meats, without overwhelming the palate. Rye's slightly tangy, earthy notes provide a nuanced background that allows the umami-packed roast beef, mustard, horseradish, cheese, pickles, and other toppings to take center stage, creating an interplay of tastes that elevates the generously seasoned sandwich to gastronomic greatness.

Always make roast beef sandwiches with rye bread

Aside from its flavor, rye bread is a structural powerhouse. Jake Dell explains that rye bread is "strong enough to hold up the physical weight of ¾ pounds of delicious meat." This is no small feat, especially in New York delis, where sandwiches are renowned for their generous portions. The dense, tender crumb of rye bread ensures it can withstand the substantial fillings without disintegrating, proving itself as a reliable vessel. The resilience of rye bread bears the rigors of heavy slicing and mile-high layers of meat. Rye's prized durability makes it a favorite among customers who demand quality and practicality in their sandwiches.

For any chef interested in making deli-worthy sandwiches at home, one important consideration is whether to carve their own roast beef. Dell offers a pragmatic yet encouraging perspective: "If you happen to have a slicer in your home, go for it!" Freshly sliced roast beef can upgrade the sandwich-making experience by allowing you to control the thickness of the meat. Pre-sliced options often can't match this. However, even without an industrial-grade meat slicer, the bread remains a critical factor. Rye's inherent characteristics shine through, ensuring your handmade creation rivals those of the storied New York delicatessens loved by locals and tourists alike. Whether in the heart of the Lower East Side or the comfort of your kitchen, rye bread is top-tier — on the authority of someone who knows a thing or two about rustling up legendary roast beef sandwiches.