Arnold Bennett Omelette is the perfect lazy Sunday breakfast. Or, more realistically, a brunch / lunch recipe, since I have taken to getting up early on Sunday morning to make a latte and heat a breakfast pastry to take back to bed with me. I don’t get up until I have caught up on all the reading I wanted to do during the week. This may become a habit.
The story behind the recipe goes that it was created by chef Jean Baptiste Virlogeux in 1929 at the Savoy for the writer Arnold Bennett, who often stayed. It has become a classic and as with classic recipes, every chef has had a go at ‘making it their own’. Having read a lot of them, this is my version, which, no doubt I will tinker with and change each time I make it. It’s at odds with other recipes because everything ends up in one pan whereas other recipes layer the omelette, fish and sauce before finishing it off under the grill.
This recipe creates a fluffy souffle-like omelette and is keeping in line with the carb – cheese - cream diet that I have been following during winter and using lockdown as a get-out clause. I ate this with a few watercress leaves tossed in oil and lemon. Because balance is everything. It serves two people or one greedy / hungry one (delete as appropriate).
2 bay leaves
3 black peppercorns
200g sustainable smoked haddock, or other smoked white fish of your choice
30g butter, saving 5g for cooking
25g plain flour
1 tbsp dijon mustard
3 medium eggs
2 tbsp single cream
30g parmesan, grated
Place the milk, onion, bay leaves and peppercons in a pan and heat to just below boiling point.
Add the haddock and simmer for two minutes. Turn over and simmer for another two minutes.
Remove the haddock and set aside.
Pass the milk through a strainer into a bowl and keep aside.
Make the sauce
In the pan you poached the haddock, add the butter and melt over a medium heat. Add the flour and stir in the flour. Mix and cook, gently stirring for about a minute or so.
Stir in the milk in a slow, steady stream, whisking until you have a smooth mixture. Keep whisking until the mixture begins to thicken. It should begin to pull away from the pan.
Remove from the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes.
Separate the eggs, keeping the whites aside.
Add the eggs, mustard, cream and parmesan and stir through until incorporated.
Flake the haddock and add, stirring gently.
Check for seasoning (the haddock is quite salty, so you may not need any).
Whisk the egg whites until they form peaks that fall over and don’t hold their shape like the stiff peaks you need for meringues.
Using a metal spoon, fold into the mixture.
Heat a pan and turn the heat on the grill to high.
Add a knob of butter to the pan and swirl to coat.