PEMBERVILLE — To keep their customers happy, deli managers think out of the box when creating dishes for the public. Sometimes that means taking chances with someone else’s recipe or trying a little experimentation.
Ask Frobose Market IGA deli manager Jacqueline Slaughterbeck and she will tell you about all kinds of dishes she has come up with. One of Slaughterbeck’s favorite creations is a Reuben casserole.
“I like to be creative, and that is what brings the customers back is the unique items,” Slaughterbeck said. “For the creativity, I like to get ideas from my co-workers, and just try something new.
“I like creating foods. I’m glad I could provide for the community here since we are one of the only places to eat for lunch. It brings us joy to be able to do that for the community.”
Slaughterbeck is the latest in a long line of deli managers at the IGA. That’s an important role, because at a smalltown grocery store, a deli manager caters to just about everyone who lives in town at one point or another.
It was over 65 years ago that Bob Hahn opened Hahn’s IGA in Pemberville, and his son Bob Hahn Jr. took over in the early 1970s before ownership transferred to Bill Beard in the late 1970s and it became known as Pemberville IGA.
Current IGA owners Bob and Elaine Frobose first became the owners of Frobose Meat Locker in downtown Pemberville in 1999 before buying the grocery store. At the time, Bob had over 30 years of experience in the meat business, so it made sense to the Frobose family that they would also take ownership of the IGA.
Lifelong Pemberville residents might recall Eloise Lohrbach and Sylvia Graffis, who were fixtures at the IGA well into the 1970s and 80s. There have been others since, but Slaughterbeck continues the tradition they started. Her Reuben casserole recipe was presented to her by a former co-worker, who she remembers only as Annette.
“It was her recipe,” Slauterbeck said. “All my co-workers, if they have recipes, I just throughout the years gather recipes. It’s a staple. The customers tell me how they love it so much, so about once a month, I like to put it on the menu.
“She brought the recipe to me, the people loved it, it worked out great, so we’ve just been making it ever since. It’s been about three years we’ve been making it. People ask for it,” Slaughterbeck continued.
“That’s usually when we put it on the menu is when the customers start asking for it. It’s like, ‘Well, when are you putting that Reuben on?’”
Like a Reuben sandwich, the Reuben casserole is basically corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, pumpernickel bread, caraway seed, and Thousand Island dressing.
Even though the Reuben sandwich is usually associated with the Irish, historic accounts typically date its origins to a Lithuanian-born Jewish grocer in Omaha, Nebraska, or a German-Jewish owner of Reuben’s Delicatessen in New York City. Of course, that debate continues.
For Slaughterbeck, her Reuben casserole is a continued celebration of St. Patrick’s Day long after March 17. Matter of fact, you can find the Reuben casserole all year long at her deli.
“So, it’s your typical Reuben, just in a casserole,” Slaughterbeck said. “We do serve quite a few people during lunch, so it is a bigger serving to feed all these workers and people coming in for lunch.
“Last week we did our Jiggs dinner. I was going to make the Reuben last week, but I said, ‘It’s St. Patrick’s Day. I must do the Jiggs dinner,’ so I pushed the Reuben back.”
Slaughterbeck has one variation from the typical Reuben recipe — she prefers pumpernickel bread.
“I realized from looking at other recipes a lot of people use the rye bread,” Slaughterbeck said. “But instead of the rye bread we use the pumpernickel bread and then we add the caraway seeds. So, in my opinion, that is a little unique, a little different, but I like that.”
Slaughterbeck grew up just outside Luckey, graduating from Eastwood in 2013. The IGA deli was her first and only job after high school, and she’s worked there for 10 years.
“I just graduated high school and I needed something to do, and I like to stay local, so I was hired in and I’ve been here ever since,’ Slaughterbeck said.
Slaughterbeck said the IGA deli offers other creative concoctions, like a goulash dish, but the vast majority are based on their popular fried chicken.
“We make a lot of casseroles using our fried chicken, so we do a chicken Parm (Parmesan) casserole and a King Ranch chicken casserole,” Slaughterbeck said.
“A few of my dishes are based on our fried chicken, so that is cool. We make our shredded chicken just about every day and you can get that over mashed potatoes or as a sandwich, so that is good. We make it (fried chicken) fresh every day, all day.”
Another popular deli item is the homemade potato salad.
“We add egg, celery and sugar, and the people go wild for it,” Slaughterbeck said.
Slaughterbeck was promoted to deli manager four years ago.
“I think I’ve learned a lot. I grew up here almost in a way, learning how to communicate with the public, how to stay grounded and patient,” Slaughterbeck said. “It takes a lot of patience to take everything in, learn and then it takes patience with new employees, new co-workers, getting them trained, getting them to learn the new recipes.”
2 loaves pumpernickel bread
5 pounds garlic butter (melted)
3 pounds sliced corned beef (diced in bite size pieces)
2 pounds Swiss cheese (sliced)
40 ounces sauerkraut
15 ounces Thousand Island dressing
10 shakes of caraway seeds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cube pumpernickel bread and toss in melted butter and set aside.
In new bowl mix sauerkraut, thousand island dressing and caraway seeds.
Spray a 12 x 24 inch pan and put ½ of bread in bottom.
Spread the corned beef on top of bread.
Put one layer of cheese slices on top of corned beef — set aside rest.
Add the kraut mixture and spread out.
Top with remaining bread.
Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes.
Uncover and add last layer of cheese slices.
Cook until cheese is all melted.