HOLIDAY: National Crab Newburg Day, National Lobster Newburg Day
National Lobster Newburg Day is March 25th, National Crab Newburg Day is September 25th.
This article celebrates both of them
The recipe for both is below.
Newburg or Newberg is very rich sauce of butter, cream, egg yolks, cognac, sherry, cayenne pepper and nutmeg, to which cooked shellfish—crab, lobster, scallops, shrimp—is added, alone or in combination.
It is creamed seafood; in fact, in French, the dish Lobster Newburg is called homard sauté à la crème (lobster sautéed in cream).
Some sources credit M. Pascal, a chef of the once-famous Delmonico Restaurant* in New York City, with its creation, saying that it was originally named after Mr. Ben Wenburg, a frequent guest at the restaurant.
According to Wikipedia, however, the dish was invented by Ben Wenberg himself, a sea captain in the fruit trade. In 1876 he demonstrated the dish to Charles Delmonico, the restaurant’s manager.
After some tweaking by the chef, Charles Ranhofer, Lobster à la Wenberg was added to the menu and became very popular (it is exquisite!).
Mr. Wenburg and the manager subsequently quarreled, and Wenburg demanded that his name be removed. The first three letters of his name were reversed to “New” to create the now-famous Newburg sauce.
Ah, how short-sighted of you, Mr. Wenburg. How many of us refuse the opportunity to enter culinary history?
In Chef Ranhofer’s printed recipe of 1894, the lobsters were boiled for 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.
A far simpler contemporary recipe is below. You can use with any seafood, including crab, lobster, scallops or shrimp.
Lobster Newburg is related to Lobster Thermidor, a similar dish that involves lobster meat cooked with eggs, cognac, and sherry that appeared in the 1890s.
The dishes are so similar—seafood in cream sauce—that they are often confused for each other. The principal difference is the sauce.
Here’s the first recipe we made, adapted from Fanny Farmer.
Depending on how large you like your portions, it can be a first course for 4 or a main course for 2. Mushrooms can “stretch out” the recipe for additional servings, and lower the cost of the dish.
1. SLICE the cooked seafood as needed. Cook with the butter for 3 minutes in a large non-stick saucepan. If using mushrooms, first sauté in butter; then add seafood and additional butter as needed.
2. ADD cream, beaten egg yolks, and seasonings to taste. Stir over low heat until slightly thickened. Add sherry and brandy; cook 1 minute more. Serve on toast or puff pastry.
*The original Delmonico’s was operated by the Delmonico family in the Wall Street area of Lower Manhattan, beginning in 1827. Established by Swiss brothers John and Peter Delmonico, the Delmonico presence expanded as other family members opened restaurants using the same name. The original grew into a grand destination, attracting the rich and famous, including visiting royalty. The space still stands at 2 William Street. You can still eat there, although the restaurant is now operated by an unrelated company (here’s the history). The restaurant is credited with Eggs Benedict, Chicken à la King, Delmonico Potatoes, Delmonico steak, Lobster Newburg. Credit is also given for naming Manhattan Clam Chowder, and the name of Baked Alaska.