Corned beef itself dates back to antiquity.
Times change, and the corned beef served up at Oaklawn isn’t salted, it’s pickled.
The beef you get at Oaklawn comes from the Kelly Eisenberg Company in Chicago. It’s a special pickle that’s unlike that I’ve had on corned beef elsewhere.
It’s cooked up in these specialty tubs that hold 150 pounds of beef to boil at a time.
Over on the other side of the kitchen, a cadre of gentlemen worked to dismantle the briskets and slice them into sandwich-friendly shards. They worked at a frenetic pace.
On opening weekend, when corned beef sandwiches are sold for fifty cents, an estimated 70,000 people came through Oaklawn. That Saturday alone, Chef Graham estimated they would go through three to four tons of corned beef.
There are 26 concessions across the park -- 23 in the building, three out in the infield. Some specialize in things like gourmet hot dogs, pretzels and such. There’s the famous Oyster Bar, which serves up oysters on the half shell, jumbo Gulf Shrimp, sea salads and more. But you can get your corned beef fix at several locations along the concourse and at the Sports Tavern.
Some of the smaller concessions will use these. But most are made to order hot on that rye bread.
The corned beef sandwich is usually $5.50. Sauerkraut is a buck more (making it a Reuben, of course).
The racetrack has other signature dishes, such as the bread pudding with whiskey sauce and the Oaklawn Signature Margarita.
Mine? I like with a touch of horseradish sauce, happily provided. There’s also mayo, mustard and ketchup available for those with different tastes.
Talked with several of the employees there… and was pretty impressed. Many of these ladies and gents have been coming back to work the 54 day season for dozens of years. There are a couple of instances of generations of families sharing the workload. I understand that hiring starts at the bottom and the track tends to promote from within.