We have a small football pool in our house. We pick for winners only. The winner of the weekly pool gets to pick either a special dinner or a special dessert. My kids, being rather awesome. They “saved” their wins and pooled them so they got a special dinner and dessert on the same night.
Now, my kids don’t eat the same, at all. I never thought in a million years they would agree on anything dinner-wise. So, imagine my surprise when they did. Want to guess what they picked? Lobster. Yup. One’s never had it, but wanted to try it. The other one has had it once.
At the same time, I haven’t really done a historical recipe for a while. So, the first one that came to mind was Lobster Newburg (or Newberg). What’s not to love? Lobster, cream, sherry, some kind of wonderful bread. Sheer Nirvana. I could eat a sherry cream sauce everyday. Love it.
But, the kids didn’t want a “recipe”, they wanted plain lobster with butter. So, two of the lobsters were steamed “plain” and two were turned into Newburg. For dessert, they requested a banana split. Odd pairing, but given it’s ease to make, I’ll take it!!
Lobster Newburg has a fascinating story, depending on which one you believe, if any of them. The dish originated in the late 1800s in America, believe it or not! All renditions of the origin story are tied to Delmonico’s, a very famous restaurant in New York City at the time. One version has a French chef departing Delmonico’s to open an inn in Pennsylvania. He wanted to serve very continental cuisine and came up with Lobster Newberg to serve at the Hotel Fauchere in Millford, Pennsylvania.
The traditional story is a bit more colorful. Ben Wenburg was an avid traveler, successful businessman, and reliably regular customer at Delmonico’s. To boot, he was a favorite diner of Delmonico’s owner, Charles Delmonico. One version has Ben swooping in and, with great showmanship, making his new favorite dish over a chafing dish in the middle of the dining room and serving it to Delmonico. Delmonico loved the dish and added it to the menu, naming it Lobster Wenburg. Delmonico and Wenburg subsequently had a falling out and the item was removed from the menu. However, as it’s delicious, there was a great cry to bring it back. So, the Delmonico transposed the W and the N and renaming Lobster “Newburg”. Other versions have the Delmonico naming the dish in honor of Wenburg, and Wenburg politely declining to have his name on the menu. Wenburg then suggests the N and W swap to disguise his name.
No matter what the story, the dish was an amazing success. When you see how simple this is, you will be amazed. It is an awesome romantic dinner. You know, when the kids are eating their steamed lobsters next to you and everything. Ah, romance.
1 sheet of Puff Pastry, divided
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 egg yolks, beaten well
3 Cups Cooked Lobster Meat*
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon sherry
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry has risen and is golden.
While the pastry is cooking, turn your attention to the sauce. Ok, you may want to use a double boiler if you are skittish about heating a high fat milk product, but if you promise to use a heavy bottomed pan and cook the cream over medium low heat, you may be fine. I was. I hate using a double boiler, too many pans! Slowly heat the cream in a larger sauce pan, stirring frequently, but don’t let it boil. When it is moderately hot (like hot chocolate hot), temper the egg yolks (add a tiny bit of the hot cream to the yolks incrementally until the yolks are rather warm), and add the yolks back to the cream. Return the pan to the heat and allow to simmer gently, again with frequent stirring. Add the lobster to the pan and continue to cook until the lobster is warmed through, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and sherry and stir until the butter is melted, about 1 minute. Serve over puff pastry (can also use rice or toast made from great French bread).
Wasn’t that easy?
*You can have your market steam your lobster. You can boil the lobster yourself in a deep kettle of boiling water for 5 minutes for the first pound, and 3 minutes for each additional pound until the lobsters are done. You can steam the lobsters until they are a bright red. However you cook your lobsters, you just need to shell them afterwards. As a Marylander and a voracious crab eater, picking lobsters is a walk in the park compared to crabs. This step should not be a deterrent!!