Citizens, it is a veritable fact that I, the glorious TFD, am inordinately fond of recipes from the gilded age – the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This recipe is one of the most succulent and delectable from that time, and surprisingly it is not one of the great recipes from the classic French canon! This one is all-American, in fact – but it is critically-endangered with only a handful of restaurants still serving it (including its namesake restaurant where it was born – Delmonico’s in NYC).
Lobster Newberg (also spelled Lobster Newburg) is an American seafood dish made from lobster, butter, cream, madeira (or cognac or sherry), eggs, and Cayenne pepper.
The dish was invented by Ben Wenberg, a sea captain in the fruit trade. He demonstrated the dish at Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City to the manager, Charles Delmonico, in 1876. After refinements by the chef, Charles Ranhofer, the creation was added to the restaurant’s menu as Lobster à la Wenberg and it soon became very popular.
An argument between Wenberg and Charles Delmonico caused the dish to be removed from the menu. To satisfy patrons’ continued requests for it, the name was rendered in anagram Lobster à la Newberg or Lobster Newberg.
It became still quite popular and was even found in French cookbooks, where it was referred to as “Homard sauté à la crème.” When Ranhofer’s printed recipe first appeared in 1894, the lobsters were boiled fully twenty-five minutes, then fried in clarified butter, then simmered in cream while it reduced by half, then brought again to the boil after the addition of Madeira.
Lobster Newberg is related to Lobster Thermidor, a similar dish that involves lobster meat cooked with eggs, cognac, and sherry that appeared in the 1890s. The Irish recipe for Dublin Lawyer is also very close to Newberg as well.
My version is identical to the classic Delmonico recipe with one key change – I eschew cognac in favor of the original Madeira, as first created by Captain Wenberg.
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