were natives of Portland, Maine but moved to New York City and continued their father’s shipping business. Benjamin was a part of the New York Bar Association, but his wealth came from the slaving trade during the 1830s and 40s. Were people aware of this? Maybe but maybe not. It was not uncommon for the trade to be kept underground and ships that carried slaves also carried products like palm oil. Benjamin Wenberg and his brother were affluent members of the Maritime Exchange, so all that they were doing was done under the cloak of legitimacy.
During their heyday, New York’s Delmonico’s Restaurant was very popular. Ben introduced Charles Delmonico to a rich dish of lobster meat covered in a sauce made from clarified butter, cream, sherry and thickened with an egg yolk. The dish was loved by the restaurant patrons and was originally named “Lobster Wenberg”.
Was this really a new creation? There were several sauces just like this one already in printed cookbooks at the time. One in particular was served over turtle. Delmonico’s added cayenne pepper to their recipe, but other than that, the sauces were identical.
It is important to note that any seafood can be substituted in the recipe I’m going to share with you today. You can serve it as a main entrée or in smaller portions as an appetizer. We love it over puff pastry shells, but it is equally good over toasted bread or English muffins.
1/3 cup butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups Half and Half
4 egg yolks
2 cups cooked lobster meat
1/4 cup dry sherry
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Dash of salt teaspoon salt
Dash of cayenne pepper
Gently melt the butter in a heavy deep skillet. Stir in the flour and continue to blend it with a whisk until is starts to bubble. Don’t let it turn brown. Pour in the Half and Half and over medium heat, continue to whisk it until it thickens.
Beat the egg yolks until they are smooth. At this point you want to temper the egg yolks by adding a little bit of the hot cream sauce a little at a time. If you pour the egg yolks directly into the skillet, you’ll get scrambled eggs! Slowly add the tempered yolks into the skillet and continue to whisk. The sauce should turn colors and become even creamier. Drop in the lobster meat and simmer it for a few minutes until it heats through. Add the sherry, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and serve immediately over toast points or puff pastry. Garnish your plate with chopped parsley. Delicious and very festive. This makes 4 entrée servings or double that as an appetizer.