Start to Finish: 1 hour, 45 minutes (only 15 minutes if you omit making the stock)
Servings: Sauce to cover about 4 entree-size portions of seafood
Newburg sauce dates all the way back to the 19th century, when it was served with lobster at New York City’s Delmonico’s restaurant in 1876; although some historians date it back to 1867, with lobster Newburg being prepared at the Hotel Fauchere in Milford, Pennsylvania. The flavors of sherry and cream in this rich sauce complement most seafood, including scallops, oysters and shrimp. Cook the shellfish gently by steaming or with a light saute, and then finish in the sauce for an elegant entree.
Create a homemade stock with the shrimp and lobster shells for a rich base to the sauce. But, you can make a quick version of the sauce without it.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 ribs of celery, chopped
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- Shells from about 1 to 2 pounds of assorted shellfish, such as lobster and shrimp
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups light cream
- 3 tablespoons dry sherry
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- Salt and pepper to taste
Make the Stock
In a medium pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery and onion and cook until the vegetables are translucent. Add the shells and saute in the butter and vegetable mixture for just 15 to 30 seconds. Pour in 8 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for approximately 1 1/2 hours; the water will reduce by 1/3 to 1/2. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer and set aside.
Make the Sauce
Melt the 4 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Use a whisk to blend in the flour, cooking for approximately a minute and dissolving any lumps that form. Continue to whisk as you add the cream, the sherry and 1 cup of the reserved stock. Bring to a light boil, whisking continually, to thicken the mixture. The thickening process should take about 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir in the paprika, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. The sauce should taste of cream and sherry -- no floury aftertaste should remain. If it does taste of flour, cook a few minutes longer.
Make It Without Stock
If you're short on time and prefer not to make the stock, prepare the sauce with 2 cups of cream and 1/4 cup of sherry. All the other procedures remain the same.
Once the sauce is made, keep it warm and reserved on the side. Steam or saute shellfish or chunks of light-flavored white fish, such as haddock or halibut, in butter. Stir the sauce into the cooked shellfish and then serve over toast points, or halves of puff pastry shells.