Many will have heard of Omelette Arnold Bennett; fewer, I suspect, will have eaten it; and fewer still will have made it. Invented at The Savoy Hotel in London for author Arnold Bennett, who resided there for a number of years, it features on the menu of The Savoy Grill to this day. Provided you can make a sauce Hollandaise, it's not that difficult. My main aversion to it is that it is impossibly rich. Your base is an omelette - ingredients, butter and eggs. It is then topped with Hollandaise sauce - ingredients, egg yolks and melted butter. A bit OTT, even if your gall bladder is in perfect working order.
Its most attractive ingredient is smoked haddock. This has featured before in Tom Cooks! but today's dish was a piece of improvisation. While L and I may live separate lives during the day, we virtually always dine together. Smoked haddock is a great favourite, generally poached in milk, sometimes with mash and a poached egg, or simply with oatcakes. Anyway one dinner time, I may have been off my victuals or been distracted by Manchester United. L dined alone. A couple of days later, an inspection of the quartermaster's stores revealed only one remaining piece of the aforesaid fish and a great abundance of eggs. The result was this tasty but less rich version of Arnold's delight.
Smoked Haddock Omelette
You can cook your fish and make the sauce in advance, so it could be a very quick treat. You have to do these things in that order, so you have the lovely fish infused milk for the sauce. I'm leaving quantities deliberately vague for a variety of reasons. The quantity of sauce you end up with will be dictated to by the size of the knob of butter you start with. It is up to you how cheesy you want your sauce to be. I would suggest it should be quite mild so that you don't hide the delicate flavour of the fish. What is important is that it must be quite thick.
For the cooking technique, this is closer to a frittata than a conventional omelette. When the eggs are barely set, but still with a runny top, you remove it from the heat, top with the fish, the sauce and the cheese, then finish under the grill.
Ingredients (serves 2)
1 piece of smoked haddock (I prefer undyed, but each to his own - fish dye manufacturers have to eat too); milk to poach it in; equal amounts of butter and flour to make a roux - about 25g of each should do it; a handful of grated cheese for the sauce, a mild Cheddar or Gruyere; grated Parmesan for topping; 6 eggs; more butter for the omelette pan; salt and pepper.
Cook the fish first. You need enough milk to cover at least two thirds of it. You can either poach it gently for about 3 - 4 minutes (my method), or bring the milk to the boil, remove from the heat, cover the pan and leave for 8 - 10 minutes. Remove the fish, set to one side, but retain the milk.
Make a roux in the usual way, then make the sauce using the retained milk. Season to taste (but be careful with the salt), stir in the cheese and check again. Your sauce should be fairly thick.
Pre heat your grill or oven. If you made the sauce in advance, make sure it's warm. Beat the eggs and season. Melt the butter over a medium to hot heat (but not the usual smoking hot for a conventional omelette). Add the eggs and stir until they are nearly but not quite set. Flake the fish and place the pieces evenly on top of the eggs. Add a generous layer of sauce and top with grated Parmesan. Cook under the grill or in a hot oven until the top is golden and the sauce bubbling.