Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lobster Newberg… I Mean, Wenberg

How Lobster Newberg got its name is one of my all-time favorite food stories. It’s also a fascinating glimpse into the twisted mind of someone crazy enough to own/run a restaurant. 

As the story goes, this dish was invented by a Mr. Ben Wenberg, who showed it to his buddy, Charles Delmonico, at the famous Delmonico’s Restaurant, in New York City. Chuck puts it on the menu, calls it “Lobster Wenberg,” and everyone loves it.

Sometime thereafter, the two men get into a horrible argument, and Delmonico takes it off the menu. Of course, the patrons are like, “You said what? He said what? Whatever, just put it back on the menu.” Which he did, but not before changing the name to the anagram, “Newberg,” purely out of spite. Hey, he could have gone with Lobster “Bengrew.”

Strange but true naming stories aside, this really is a great, and simple recipe. As long as you’re not filming it, that is. Once you start with the sauce, you really can’t stop until you’re spooning it into the pastry, so this presented a little challenge in trying to get all the shots.

The sauce is pretty rich, so you want something just thick enough to coat the meat, but not so thick that it covers it up. Having said that, if you cook it a little further, until it almost starts to simmer, it will get a bit thicker, if that’s your preference. Just don’t go too far, or the yolks may start to form curds, and you’ll lose the silkiness.

What you want to avoid is that pudding-like consistency you see on the bad hotel buffets. Besides paying attention to the few minutes of stirring, not much can go wrong. I really hope you give the recipe formerly known as, “Lobster Wenberg,” a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 appetizer sized portions:
4 (4-oz) lobster tails
2 tbsp clarified butter (melted butter with the milky foam removed)
2 or 3 tbsp sherry or brandy
salt to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
cayenne pepper to taste
pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
Serve over buttered toast or in freshly baked puff pastry shells (video to follow)


Eirik Dahl said...

i cannot help thinking about doing a scallop version of this. and some onions seems to be missing! if there isn't any onions present, the official culinary term is actually porridge.

Jason Smith said...


Is it worth making a quick broth out of the shells? Or is that a wasted step?

Dilehk Abahossain said...

chef john is there replacement for alcohol because i live in saudi arabia and alcohol not an option for me...? Thank you

Sick Vans Blog said...

When I eat lobster I always like to ask my dining companions, "I wonder what the poor people are eating right now?"

And then we laugh at their miserable lives, and congratulate ourselves for our cleverness and wealth.

Chef John said...

Sorry, there is no sub for the booze!

Jason, I probably wouldn't bother, but would add a bit more flavor. Not sure worth all the extra time.

Chef John said...

So, a Newberg without onions is called a "porridge?" That's a new one on me.

Pottersquash said...

Any particular shellfish sub wouldn't work on this? I live in Gulf Coast so plenty of shellfish (including crawfish) but little lobster.

OneBlueMovieStar said...

Hi Chef John this looks amazing! I'm gonna try it. Suggestion . . . can you slow down when you talk. You used to speak a lot more relaxed. Were you in a rush? Thanks!

Monica said...

I find no mention of the definition of porridge as being anything but a cooked blend of oats or other grain. In Uk and most commonwealth countries we have it for breakfast,in US it is called oatmeal.

Bobbisox said...

I miss being able to eat lobster and it is lobster season now and all. Since I became allergic, 4 years ago, I have substituted scallops, which my mother is allergic to. I think my mother used to use a combination of lobster and shrimp for the dish. I haven't had lobster newberg in so many years I want to try this one. One reason I wanted to meet my husband was his legendary freezer full of lobster all year long. Now ours is full of other seafood to use in dishes such as this.

Robert Farnlof said...

Chef, I've made you wonderful puff pastries (Lemon Tarts), however how do you get them to puff up so much to hold this lobster dish?

Gary J Moss said...

Chef John,
Thanks for making this classic from my childhood. My contemporaries and I long ago decided never to make this dish because our memories are lobster in a flour-thickened, gloppy sauce in poorly made pastry. I'll have to try your recipe and present it as a surprise dinner to friends who won't believe that it is a truly delectable dish.

I have only been watching your food videos (or anyone's for that matter) for several months. I was a decent cook before, now I'm learning all kinds of techniques to make simple, fresh ingredients very tasty in not too much time.

Thank you!

Blue Arc said...

I;m going old school and make Lobster Wenberg. Looks delicious Chef!

scruffy said...

Hey Chef John!
I'm loving your videos and I already cooked several of your recipes (I also had some failures, but all in all it's great).
You've probably already answered this question but, what exactly is the advantage of clarified butter over just plain ol' butter?

Thank you!

BSchumacher said...

Chef John, eating just doesn't get any better than this. Fixed this for hubby's birthday dinner appetizer and needless to say I scored BIG!