I love lobster. I love it steamed. I love it stuffed into a split-top bun. Folded into creamy mac and cheese. Chopped up and tossed into a cobb salad. I love lobster just about any way it can be served. But my hands down favorite way of serving and savoring lobster is à la Lobster Newburg.
Lobster Newburg has been around since the Gilded Age, when it became a popular menu item at the grandiose New York restaurant Delmonico’s. Traditionally it is made with lobster, butter, cream, cognac, sherry, eggs and Cayenne pepper. I grew up on a paired back, Downeast Maine version of the dish and it has always been my favorite way to enjoy lobster.
A newburg was always served on special occasions in my family. We had it when my great grandmother or my grandparents came for a meal. Each year on my birthday, when I could choose whatever I wanted for dinner, I chose lobster newburg. When I married my husband, we served lobster newburg at our wedding reception.
My lobster newburg recipe, handed down from my grandmother to my mother and then to me, is as simple as it is delicious. No cognac or sherry. No eggs or cream. Just a basic white sauce, enhanced with some nutmeg and Cayenne pepper, ladled over toasted saltine crackers. Enjoy!
- For the Lobster
- 2 lobsters (around 1½ pounds per lobster)
- 2 tbs. butter
- For the White Sauce
- 2 tbs. butter
- 2 tbs. flour
- 1 cup milk
- nutmeg to taste
- red (cayenne) pepper to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
- Use approximately one lobster per guest (around one and a half pounds per lobster).
- Cook the lobster and pick out the meat. Cut the lobster meat into bite-sized chunks and then place in a frying pan on medium heat with several large chunks of butter. Fry the lobster for about five minutes and then take it off the heat but don’t drain.
- In a saucepan, on medium heat, make your basic white sauce. To do this, place 2 tablespoons of butter in the saucepan. Once melted, add 2 tablespoons of flour and mix. Once mixed, add 1 cup of milk and whisk the ingredients until thickened. Add a dash of salt and pepper plus a dash of nutmeg and a dash of red pepper. Take the white sauce off the heat and then add in the lobster (including juice). Note, if you’re cooking lobster Newburg for more than four people, you’ll want to increase the amount of sauce.
- Once you have combined the lobster and sauce in the saucepan, cook the lobster Newburg mixture in a double boiler on a very low heat for three to four hours so the sauce has a chance to really absorb the flavor of the lobster. The sauce will turn pinkish as it becomes increasingly flavorful.
- When it comes time to serve, toast saltine crackers in the oven until crisp and then pour some of the lobster Newburg over the crackers. Spaghetti or linguine are great alternatives to crackers if you so prefer. I usually accompany the dish with peas.