-

Sunday, March 25, 2012

It's Lobster Newburg Day!

If I hadn't stumbled upon a Lobster Newburg Day post at Della's 365 Foods, chances are we'd be celebrating Triticale, (trit-i-KA-lee) Pecans, or Waffles today. Here's why:

1. Nobel Peace Prize winner and American agronomist Norman Ernest Borlaug was born today in 1914. Why is that of note you ask? He was one of the fore-fathers who laid the ground work of the Green Revolution, the agricultural technological advance that promised to alleviate world hunger. He help developed the wheat/rye hybrid grain called triticale which has a higher yield and protein content.

Dr. Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his success in developing high-yielding wheat varieties and reversing severe food shortages that daunted India and Pakistan in the 1960's.  Credited with saving millions of lives, his work virtually eliminated recurring famines in South Asia and helped global food production outpace population growth. In 1987, Dr. Borlaug created the World Food Prize, the foremost international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving food security in the world.  Dr. Borlaug received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007, the highest civilian award, for his lifetime contributions to improving international agriculture and global food security. (United States Department of Agriculture)

I apologize, I just can't bring myself to discuss triticale today. Perhaps some time in August when the Whole Grain Council celebrates Rye and Triticale as Grains of the Month. As for Pecan Day and International Waffle Day (both also today:) been there done that here and here:) I did, however, leave you a free links below if you would like to explore more about Tritcale with some recipe links of course:)

I'd much rather discuss Lobster Newburg and it's "shady" history. After all, aren't many of you gearing up for the Mad Men House Party tonight?

Mad Men’s Vodka Gimlet Moment: The Gimlet is Betty Draper's drink of choice. After a Season 1 dinner with her husband's boss Roger Sterling and his wife, when she’s queasy in the car, Betty notes: “Lobster Newburg and Gimlets should get a divorce. They're not getting along well." (Drinking with Don Draper)

I've never seen the show Mad Men before. If by chance I should happen upon it while flipping through the channels, I just keep going. As you might remember, I'm not much of a television person. However, I find it rather sad, not seeing the episode and all, to learn that Betty Draper had a bad experience with Lobster Newburg. Lobster Newburg is a classic. As a matter of fact, it was conceived much earlier than the 1960s. Here's what Maria Parola, one of the most popular cookbook authors of the 1880s, had to say about Lobster Newburg in 1885!

Lobster Newburg: If provision is to be made fo six or eight persons, use the meat of a lobster weighing about four pounds, or that of two small lobsters; four tablespoonfuls of butter, two of brandy, two of sherry, two teaspoonfuls of salt, one-fourth of a teaspoonful of pepper, half a pint of cream, the yolks of four eggs and a slight grating of nutmeg.

Cut the meat of the lobster into small, delicate slices. Put the butter on the stove in a frying pan, and when it becomes hot, put in the lobster. Cook slowly for five minutes; then add the salt, pepper, sherry, brandy and nutmeg, and simmer five minutes longer. Meanwhile beat the yolks of the eggs well, and add the cream to them. Pour the liquid over the cooking mixture and stir constantly for one minute and a half. Take from the fire immediately at the end of that time, and serve in a warm dish.

Lobster Newburg may be served as a fish course in a dinner or luncheon. A garnish of triangular bits of puff paste may be added or the lobster be served on toast. No mode of cooking lobster gives a more delicate or elegant dish. Special care must be taken to stir the mixture constantly after the cream and beaten eggs are poured over the lobster until the frying pan is taken from the fire. (source)

Lobster Newburg a la Bookbinder's
The Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating Places

So when it comes to Lobster Newburg, the question is not when, it's more like who, what, why? By most accounts, the Signature Dish originated at the infamous Delmonico's Restaurant in New York City one day in 1876.

Lobster Newberg:...originally named after Ben Wenberg, a wealthy sea captain engaged in the fruit trade between Cuba and New York. When on shore, he customarily ate at Delmonico's Restaurant. One day in 1876, home from a cruise, he entered the cafe and announced that he had brought back a new way to cook lobster (where he originally got the idea for this new dish has never been discovered). Calling for a chafing dish, he demonstrated his discovery by cooking the dish at the table and invited Charles Delmonico to taste it. Delmonico said, "Delicious" and forthwith entered the dish on the restaurant menu, naming it in honor of its creator Lobster a la Wenberg. The dish quickly became popular and much in demand, especially by the after-theatre clientele.

Many months after Ben Wenberg and Charles Delmonico fought or argued over an as-yet-undiscovered and probably trivial matter.  The upshot was that Charles banished Wenberg from Delmonico's and ordered Lobster a la Wenberg struck from the menu. That did not stop patrons from asking for the dish. By typographical slight-of-hand, Delmonico changed the spelling from "Wenberg" to "Newberg," and Lobster Newberg was born. This dish has also been called Lobster Delmonico.

Delmonico's famous chef, Chef Charles Ranhofer altered the original recipe to add his own touch.

In his book, The Epicurean, published in 1894, Charles Ranhofer gives the following recipe for Lobster a la Newberg:

Cook six lobsters each weighing about two pounds in boiling salted water for twenty-five minutes.  Twelve pounds of live lobster when cooked yields from two to two and a half pounds of meat with three to four ounces of coral.  When cold detach the bodies from the tails and cut the latter into slices, put them into a sautoir, each piece lying flat, and add hot clarified butter;   season with salt and fry lightly on both sides without coloring; moisten to their height with good raw cream;  reduce quickly to half;  and then add two or three spoonfuls of Madeira wine;  boil the liquid once more only, then remove and thicken with a thickening of egg yolks and raw cream.  Cook without boiling, incorporating a little cayenne and butter; then arrange the pieces in a vegetable dish and pour the sauce over." 

There are those who beg to differ. Although Chef Jean Conil doesn't make mention of the origins of Lobster a la Newburg in his book For Epicure's Only, He does discuss its origins in the June 1957 edition of The Epicurean Monthly.

In spite of the "a la" connotation this is not a French dish. It is strictly of American origin. The story goes that around the turn of the century when Delmonico's was one of the few top restaurants in New York City where gourmets, connoisseurs of fine food, made their headquarters, this dish saw the light of day.

One of the discriminating patrons was a physician whose wealthy clients enabled him to dine there regularly. The menus in Delmonico's were in French as was customary in metropolitan cities all over the civilized world in that era. The good doctor was very fond of lobster and instructed his waiter one day how he would like his favourite crustacean prepared and served, previously cooked, lobster tail cut in slices, sauteed in butter and served in a sauce similar to Terrapin Maryland Sauce.

This request was duly passed on to the chef who instructed the fish cook accordingly. The order was made with meticulous care and the lobster tail chunks were served in a rich sauce consisting of sweet cream, thickened with egg yolks and finished with a dash of dry sherry.

The chef promptly added the new concotion on the menu as "Homard a la Neuberg" because that was the doctor's name. However, Doctor Neuberg strenuously objected to having his name identified on the menu in connection with a dish. Therefore it was changed to Newburg. There is a town by the name of Newburgh in New York state so no objections could be made. Now we find Lobster Newburg, which should be served in a chafing dish all over the country. Of course some unavoidable changes have been made, the cut up lobster claws are also used and cream sauce is used to prevent curdling, particularly when made in advance as a du jour dish, or for parties. A sprinkling of paprika is used to effect a pinkish colour and hot toast is always served with this dish. We also find Shrimps a la Newburg and other seafood served Newburg style.

While we're discussing "Newburg style", I should probably mention that you mark your calendars, Crab Newburg Day is in September:)

I can only describe Lobster Newburg as delicately delectable and delicious! Yes, I adore it. Although, it is a dish reserved for exclusive occasions, say my birthday, for instance, it also makes a gorgeous presentation at holiday brunches. I'm thinking of preparing these Lobster Newburg Crepes I uncovered at The World of Crepes for Marion and I on Easter morning. What do you think?

I'm not in the habit of "snatching" images without asking but I plum ran out of time. This one was harvested from Pinterest. I must say, The World of Crepes was a delicious stop. I will go back and let them know:)

I'm delighted to report I finally figured out the reply to comments code on blogger. It was giving me one heck of a time but I finally got a reasonable answer after posting a help question on the google help forum. If you too are having a problem getting it to work, may I suggest you visit the google help forum. I thought I saved the link to the site but apparently I lost it in my saved emails. (I probably inadvertently deleted it:) Anyway, what this means is I'm very Happy I can reply to your comments more quickly. As for the Pinterest post I spoke of, it's a comin'...

Resources
1. Lobster Newburg Day @ Della's 365 Foods
2. Triticale and Bourbon Salad
3. Triticale Bread
4. Triticale Honey Bread
5. Triticale Berries with Peanuts and Asian Seasonings (Dean & DeLuca)
6. Triticale Sprouts
7. What to Serve at Your Madmen Watching Party
8. How to Drink Like the Characters of Mad Men

40 Nibbles:

Gloria said...

omg I love lobster! !! this post is absolutely yummy lol,have a nice day. Louise

SissySees said...

I adore lobster, and I am fond of a bite or two of anything Newburg, so happy day! I was invited to a Madmen party at our local "formal" theater (not to be confused with a cinema-plex), but like you, I don't watch much TV...

Sylvia@Peaches and Donuts said...

I'll take lobster over waffles any day!! haha and you are not alone, I haven't watch Mad man too!

Helene Dsouza said...

I am glad I get to lerne something about american food heritage. Seriously if somebody would have ask me 5 years earlier which american dishes I d know, I d answer burger and daughnuts. so thank u louise for taking the time to research and present us soo much knowledge. I ll check out the lobster newburg soon!

~~louise~~ said...

For some reason I figured you for an "I Love Lobster" kinda gal, Gloria:)

~~louise~~ said...

My son just informed me that there are quite a few Mad Man Parties going on in State College this weekend. Gee, I was invited:)

~~louise~~ said...

I know they serve a lot of Chicken "n" Waffles around here, Sylvia. I'm not sure about Waffles & Lobster though. I'd rather have the crepes:)

~~louise~~ said...

Why thank you Helene. I feel the same way when I visit your gorgeous blog. I just never know what new tasty tidbit you'll be serving up. Your Goa posts have had me wishing to visit one day:)

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Oh, Louise, you MUST sample Mad Men!! With your love of history and tradition, you would be in HEAVEN! So, whip up a little Lobster Newburg, pour a Manhattan and enjoy!

~~louise~~ said...

If you say so, T.W. I know I will enjoy the Manhattan for sure:)

black eyed susans kitchen said...

The first time I had Lobster Newberg was in 1964 at Trader Vic's which was in the Plaza hotel at the time. It was exotic and delicious...I was 10 years old and it was my birthday. I remember every bit of that evening with my parents. That particular dish is like a little time capsule and I did not know its history. Thanks for the memory Louise.

~~louise~~ said...

Ah, Trader Vics. I have fond memories of Trader Vics at the Plaza. I actually returned to the Plaza quite a few years ago and would you believe Trader Vics was under renovation. I never did go back. But oh my goodness, EVERYONE should stay at the Plaza at least once in their life! I sure am glad I did.

It pleases me to think this post ignited a tasteful memory, Susan. It made my night! Thank YOU!

Barbara said...

I don't know what I'd do without your keeping me up to date on all these events, Louise. And (she says, looking this way and that to make certain she's not overheard) I've never watched Mad Men either. There. I admitted it. Guess I'd better do something about that....my daughter loves that show.
I'd much rather eat Lobster Newburg, which was also hot stuff in my era. Haven't had it for years.

~~louise~~ said...

If Mad Men brings attention to Lobster Newburg, Barbara, that's fine by me. I did give the show 15 minutes of fame last night on T.W.'s suggestion, I just can't sit still for much longer than that. You should probably give it ago though, I think you might enjoy it!

Angela/Soap Mom's Kitchen/Sutherland Soap Creamery said...

I haven't had Lobster Newburg in years, but I have a special occasion coming up soon and you just gave me an idea! Love reading the history! Great post as always!!

yummychunklet said...

This looks delicious! I love seafood, so I'm excited to make this myself.

Rita said...

One of our favourite treats, but had now idea they had a Special day. Why not...it is the best. I haven`t made it in ages; thanks for the reminder.
Rita

~~louise~~ said...

Thanks, Angela. Delighted you found this post inspiring. Please share if you "whip" some Lobster Newburg up for your company. We'd love a nibble:)

~~louise~~ said...

I can just imagine how incredible your Lobster Newburg will look, Yummy. Will you share too?

~~louise~~ said...

You are more than welcome, Rita. Lobster Newburg Day is in March but, plain ol' National Lobster Day is June 15th!

artofnaturalliving.com said...

Lobster Newburg is one of my favorites! I will be eating Easter brunch at a restaurant with Seafood Newburg on the menu and now I am really excited!

Jesse (Great Grandmother's Kitchen) said...

Great post!

I've seen that episode of Mad Men and wondered what Lobster Newburgh was...I never lived near coasts until I was older, and so I'm still not used to a lot of seafood dishes. Sounds delicious but rich!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Lobster tastes so good! Those crêpes look amazing. Eventhough it's only 8.30am, I am craving them...

Cheers,

Rosa

~~louise~~ said...

Have a few nibbles for me, Inger. Apparently, Lobster is a commodity in central PA:) Enjoy!!!

~~louise~~ said...

Oh yes, Jesse, Lobster Newburg is indeed rich but oh so good!

~~louise~~ said...

I think Lobster Crêpes would make a perfect brunch dish, Rosa. I too am craving them and it's only 9:06 AM!

Pattie @ Olla-Podrida said...

Reading this is making me drool. I LOVE Lobster Newburg, although I've had more Shrimp Newburg than lobster because of the expense of lobster here in the Heartland. A fun and informative post, as always. Would you believe that I have The Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating Places? I have been unpacking boxes of cookbooks and shelved this one just the other day.

Catherine said...

Dear Louise, I love lobster in any form. This article was full of good and interesting info.. I am not surprised that Delmonico's is the origin of this dish, with all the famous people that ate their.
The crepes look splendid.
Thank you for visiting. I just look forward always. Blessings my dear, Catherine xo

What's Baking?? said...

A very telling history. All the more I wish I could taste it. Looks absolutely delicious.

Sonia said...

Dear Louise,
This post of yours is commendable. Always look forward to your well elaborated and inspiring posts/article. Have a great week ahead. regards, sonia

lena said...

this lobster newburg sauce sounds delicious to me and i believe Marion would love eating your lobster crepes very much. Thanks so much on note regarding the 'reply to comments, it is just not showing up in my blog, i shall go over and chk with google forum later.

~~louise~~ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
~~louise~~ said...

I have quite a few editions of those Ford books, Pattie. Aren't they so cool? Have FUN unpacking your books. Funny thing is, I adore unpacking books!

~~louise~~ said...

Delighted you enjoyed this post, Catherine.

~~louise~~ said...

Thanks, Jen. So glad you enjoyed it. I wish I could send you a bite:)

~~louise~~ said...

Thank you for your sweet words, Sonia.

~~louise~~ said...

Let me know if you need any hints with the comment form, Lena. Mine was easy to fix once I found the problem.

Anonymous said...

Stouffers used to make Lobster Newburg! A little red box, about $5, right there next to the spinach souffle and vegetable lasagna. Then it disappeared, too expensive, I suppose, which is a shame. It was a nice little treat served over a toasted English muffin. I've learned to make the sauce myself, and it isn't hard at all, you just have to be sure to 'temper' the eggs (which means pour a little of the hot sauce into them, stirring like mad, before adding them into the pan). I've made Shrimp Newburg, poured it over baked fish, and even in a pinch made Chicken Newburg.

~~louise~~ said...

Now that you mention it, Anon, I seem to remember Stouffers Lobster Newburg. I don't think I've ever tried it though. As you say, the sauce is fairly easy to make and it does work beautifully with Shrimp when Lobster isn't available. Chicken Newburg sounds most intriguing too! Thanks for sharing and visiting:)

OysterCulture said...

I am so glad you selected lobster Newburg and it was great to learn of its shady history. I think learning this part only makes the food more interesting and some how improves the taste. =)

Wow, I had no idea that the recipe had been around so long and was so hard to nail down the origins. I do think those crepes look incredibly special and I hope you get a chance to make them soon.