Omelette Arnold Bennett

When I happened upon this recipe, the intro read that ‘everyone must make this at least once in their lives’ – quite a statement but having tried it, I completely agree. Unlike any omelette I have ever tried, this is rich, sumptuous and very satisfying – we felt like we were eating a luxurious treat rather than a family meal. We had it for a supper but I think it would be best enjoyed as a weekend breakfast, surrounded by the papers and with coffee brewing in the corner – sounds like a wonderful start to the day. Planning it now….

Serves 2

What you need…

300ml semi-skimmed milk

2 cloves

2 bay leaves

A few parsley stalks

1 medium onion, cut into wedges

260g smoked haddock

4 happy eggs, plus 2 happy egg yolks

40g butter

15g plain flour

Handful Parmesan, grated

Parsley, chopped, to garnish

What to do…

Heat the milk in a saucepan with the cloves, bay leaves, parsley stalks and onion. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat, pop on a lid and set aside for 30 minutes for the flavours to infuse.

Return the pan to a moderate heat and bring the milk to a gentle simmer. Place the smoked haddock in, remove from the heat, pop the lid on again and allow the fish to cook in the cooling milk. Once the fish is cooked and cool enough to handle, remove it from the milk and flake it into a bowl. Set aside. Strain the milk through a sieve and retain. Discard the onion and herbs.

Meanwhile, whisk the 4 whole eggs in a bowl.

Then, in a medium-sized saucepan, melt a third of the butter. Tip in the flour and stir in, cooking over a moderate heat for 2 minutes. Gradually add the warm milk, stirring the whole time until it has all been incorporated. Keep over a low heat for a further 5 minutes until the sauce is thick and smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Melt the remaining butter in a large frying pan over a moderate heat. Tip in the whisked eggs and cook them until they are just cooked at the bottom but liquid on top. Add the flaked fish and sprinkle over the Parmesan. Add the two egg yolks to the sauce combine before pouring the sauce over the omelette. Place the frying pan under a hot grill to finish cooking the eggs and allowing the top to glaze. (This part of the process was interrupted as the burglar alarm in our new house went off and the omelette was only just saved in the ensuing mayhem – hence the poor photograph!)

Enjoy. What bliss the marriage of smoked haddock and eggs with the rich, creamy sauce. Scrumptious!

How Omelette Arnold Bennett came about…

Classic dishes don’t get any more quintessentially British than the Omelette Arnold Bennett. It was created in 1930 at London’s Savoy Hotel. Prolific writer, Arnold Bennett was staying at the hotel, using the location as the backdrop to the book that he was writing. One day, feeling particularly hungry, he asked the breakfast waiter for an omelette with a little more substance than usual and chef, Jean Baptiste Virlogeux, created this sumptuous little number. The Savoy still serves it every day and its fame is such that it features on menus both sides of the Atlantic.

Inspired by…

James Winter, who in turn was inspired by Jean Baptiste Virlogeux

How easy…

It’s not difficult but it is fiddly and requires 3 pans and 2 bowls, so it’s also messy. That said, it’s absolutely worth the clearing up.

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