The Trip Home


Just as the summer beach vacation is an annual East Coast tradition, so too is the journey back home again.  A somewhat somber moment, perhaps, realizing it’ll be nearly a year before the next time, but a delicious extravagance like Lobster Newburg helps make the return trip something to anticipate, even to savor.  A proper finale for the vacation.

Passengers aboard New York Central’s rail lines may have enjoyed a similar experience in dining cars across the system, as they made their ways homeward from the shore.  Lobster Newburg is an indulgence, though it was one of New York Central’s specialties, one that attracted travelers for decades.  This is one of the preparations featured in James Porterfield’s Dining by Rail, along with its companion, Carrots in Mint Sauce, a signature side served onboard the nearby New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.

The lobster bastes in a simple, elegant sauce containing egg yolks, cream, butter and sherry.  Rich, definitely, though it enrobes the shellfish’s sweetness much in the same way drawn butter does.  Furthermore, that savory profile is a great match for the toasted triangles of cornbread served alongside.  Crunchy yet silky, each bite is a perfect realization of the lobster’s briny sweetness.

Mint provides additional balance, as its bracing freshness elevates the carrot’s melody.  It also cuts through some of the lobster’s richness, refreshing the palette.  This creates the full range of sensations the table offers taste buds – savory, sweet and salty.

A truly memorable meal, highlighting the flavors of the shore and of nostalgia’s sweetness.  What better way to say goodbye to the beach than to inspire fondness for your return next summer?

*****

Lobster Newburg New York Central

  • 1 1-pound lobster, boiled
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup cream, warmed
  • 1/2 cup sherry
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 triangles cornbread, toasted (*1)

Remove the meat from the lobster, dice it (*2) and set it aside.

Set a medium saucepan over a medium flame and add the butter.  When the butter melts, stir in the lobster and sprinkle with paprika.  Add the warmed cream and the sherry and increase the flame to medium-high.  Stir just until the liquid begins to boil, then turn off the flame.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks until smooth.  Gradually yet deliberately pour the hot saucepan contents into  the eggs, whisking constantly so the yolks don’t set.

Return contents to the saucepan and continue heating over a low flame, continuing to whisk constantly, until the mixture is thoroughly warmed.  Do not allow it to boil!

Ladle into individually-portioned casseroles and serve alongside toasted cornbread triangles.

NOTES:

1 – While the cookbook is a treasury of great recipes, it remains annoyingly reticent about the dimensions required of the cornbread triangles, so I let common sense guide.

As the bread is toasted (three minutes under a broiler), standard-size is too thick.  I baked a batch of cornbread in a 9-inch square pan, then quartered it and subsequently sliced each square diagonally, creating two triangles.  Finally, I halved each triangle horizontally, creating cornbread ready for toasting.

2 – Though it’s not the method used in the original recipe, I cut the meat into several large pieces, rather than dicing it, as it’s more visually pleasing, don’t you think?

*****

Carrots in Mint Sauce

  • 3 cups diced carrots
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 3 tablespoons shredded mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Place diced carrots in a large saucepan and just cover them with water.  Place over a high flame and boil for six minutes.  Drain carrots and set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together the cornstarch, sugar and water.  When sugar dissolves, whisk in the mint leaves and lemon juice.  Set aside.

Place the now-empty saucepan over a medium flame and add the butter.  When  it melts, add the mint mixture.  Stir in the cooked carrots and continue cooking until the sauce reduces by nearly half, about five minutes.

4 thoughts on “The Trip Home

    1. Much appreciated, my friend!

      Grinding lobster to mincemeat is similar to having the Hope diamond – or…maybe, to possessing another gem not quite so cursed – and then pulverizing it to sand. That will not do. No, ma’am, that will…not…do.

      My high-falutin’ aspirations aside, I barely make it into the bourgeoisie. Meaning, when I splurge for lobster, it needs to exult, not merely to exist.

      It’s gratifying, though it hardly is surprising, you have a similar appreciation, Crystal!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Mine too, especially as I love mint. Actually, I never had thought of the combination before, but chefs did aboard the great train lines of sixty-plus years ago.

      More transportation-centric entries are coming eventually, and not all of them are from the rails. They all speak of a time, though, when meals were more refined, and they distinguished business trips and vacations.

      Liked by 1 person

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