There are more than one claim to the history of Lobster Newberg. The claims are a
little confusing, as the dates don't seem to come out right. You be the judge!
Photo from Taste of Home magazine, March/April 2003
Some historians believe that Lobster Newberg originated at the Hotel Fauchere
in Milford, PA, as Lobster Newberg was the signature dish of this elegant
hotel during the 1800s. Louis Fauchere, known locally as the “crazy Frenchman,”
purchased a small saloon, (known as the "Van Gorden & La Bar" and also
previously known as "The French Hotel" which is believed to have been owned
by relatives of his wife, Rosalie Perrochet Fauchère, who had come to
Milford as part of the French settlement in the early 19th century. He left
his position as chef at New York City's famous Delmonico's restaurant to
open this hotel and dining room, also called Delmonico's.
As he originally built the hotel summer retreat for
New York City society. Louis Fauchere prided himself on the hotel's original cuisine and an elegant atmosphere,
and the restaurant soon became famous. He always claimed he invented Lobster Newberg, but this hasn't never been
proven. He worked at Delmonico's Restaurant under the famous chef, Alessandro Filippini,
who worked there from 1849 to 1888. Louis Fauchere left Delmonico's
Restaurant and permanently moved to Milford in 1867. Fauchere opened the Hotel Fauchere
8 years before Delmonico's Restaurant claimed it was created in 1876. You be the judge!
master chef of the Hotel Fauchere for 42 years (1926-1968), is given credit for perfecting and popularizing the
dish with his own secret recipe.
The most popular theory on the history of the dish was created at the
Delmonico's Restaurant in New York City. The first Delmonico's restaurant was
opened in 1827 by brothers Giovanni and Pietro Delmonico. The brothers hired
French cooks of ability from the steady stream of immigrants who settled in New York.
Lobster Newberg was originally
introduced and 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 blazer (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 (1936-1899),
altered the original recipe to add his own touch. In 1876, Charles Ranhofer
retired and returned to France. In 1879, three years after he left
Delmonico's to retire in France, Charles Ranhofer returned to America and
Delmonico's as chef de cuisine at the 26th Street (Madison Square)
restaurant. He was the chef at Delmonico's from 1862 to 1896. In his book,
The Epicurean, published in 1894, 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."
- In the 1880's, it was the favorite lobster specialty at the resort hotels
on Coney Island, which bough as much as 3,500 pounds of lobster daily to
satisfy their customers' lobster longings.
Lobster Newberg Recipe:
Yields: 2 to 4 servings
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 20 min
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups cooked lobster meat, cut into 1/2-inch pieces*
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy
Tabasco or 1/8 teaspoons cayenne pepper or to taste
1/3 cup cognac, sherry, brandy, or Madeira (your choice)
Use fresh lobster if available, but 2 (6 ounce) cans of lobster may be used instead. You
could also substitute lobster tail meat.
In a large frying pan or
chafing dish over medium-low heat, heat butter until the foam begins to
subside. Immediately add the cooked lobster meat and sauté, turning all the
pieces, for approximately 2 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of the cream and add the salt; stir and simmer for an additional 2 minutes (do not allow the mixture to boil).
Meanwhile in another bowl, beat the remaining 1/4 cup of cream together with the egg yolks.
Stir in the Tabasco and cognac to the lobster mixture. Stir
or whisk in a few tablespoons of the simmering cream mixture into the
egg/cream mixture. Reduce heat to low and stir the mixture until thickened
(but not boiling).
Remove from heat and serve immediately on Toast Points.
Makes 2 to 4 servings.