Did you know the original Rueben Sandwich was invented in Omaha?
In the 1920’s Reuben Kulakofsky, then owner of Central Market at 17th and Farnam Streets, created the Reuben. The story goes that Reuben and his buddies met regularly to play poker at Omaha's grand Blackstone Hotel at 36th and Farnam. According to Omaha World-Herald Food Editor Jane Palmer, "Out of each pot, they'd save a nickel or a dime and, later in the day, they'd phone for a cold midnight lunch." What came were cold cuts, bread, condiments, etc., from which the players concocted their own sandwiches. The favorite, hands down, was Reuben Kulakofsy's creation. Blackstone owner Charles Schimmel, one of the "regulars," thought so much of this sandwich he put it on the hotel menu and called it a "Reuben."
(By the way, Albert Wohlner, then owner of Wohlner’s Market at 33rd and California was probably there when the Rueben was invented. Albert was one of the “regulars” at those Blackstone poker games. Albert was Mike’s grandfather.)
Here is Bernard Schimmel’s recipe for the Original Rueben as invented and served at the Blackstone Hotel:
The Blackstone’s Original Rueben Sandwich Recipe
Serving Size: Makes 2 sandwiches
- 4-5 ounces of sliced Corned Beef --you need at least 4 slices (you may either cook and slice your own corned beef, or buy Boarshead Deli Corned Beef, both are on sale this week.)
- 4 ounces Swiss Emmenthaler Cheese, 4- one ounce slices
- ¼ cup or more Sauerkraut, well drained but not rinsed
- 2 Tablespoons Thousand Island Dressing
- 4 slices dark rye bread
- Butter, softened to room temp
- Mix drained sauerkraut with Thousand Island Dressing.
- Butter one side of each bread slice. Lay bread, unbuttered side up, side by side.
- On each of the 4 slices of bread place one slice of Swiss Cheese, a quarter of the sauerkraut mixture, and a slice of corned beef.
- Fold the 4 pieces to make 2 sandwiches
- Grill on hot griddle or skillet until each side is toasted brown and cheese is melted.
- Serve immediately.