Friday, 1 February 2013

Blast from the past

 Eggs Arnold Bennett
a perhaps unlikely combination of flavours that has become a classic – smoked haddock, cheese, and hollandaise and/or bechamel sauce in a fluffy soufflé-style omelette.

Savoy chefs c1920s
It is an accolade indeed to have a dish named after you, particularly if that dish becomes deeply ingrained within the lexicon of the modern kitchen.

Omelette Arnold Bennett is such a dish. Created in the 1920s by the chefs at the Savoy Hotel to commemorate author and playwright Bennett writing his novel, Imperial Palace, whilst staying at the Savoy this dish should be a true British classic

This elaborate, rich concoction seems to have disappeared from hotel and restaurant menus. To tell you the truth, a busy kitchen stops dead when they get a couple of these on order, so that’s probably why!

I haven't cooked this for years - not since we last had guests aboard our narrowboat on a hot summer's day and I needed something nutritional to go with salad. I've lost the recipe I used then. Most recipes I've found online omit whisking the egg whites and making a bechamel , there is more effort involved in making a fluffy, light omelette, but it's worth it.

Wednesday's dinner

Eggs Arnold Bennett
  • smoked haddock
  • milk
  • bay leaf
  • six free range eggs
  • 6 tbs cream
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs plain flour
  • grated cheese

  • Prepare the fish by poaching it in milk and removing any skin and bones. Drain the fish, set it aside. Remove the bay leaf and keep the stock to make the sauce.
  • Make a roux with half the butter and all the plain flour. Gradually add the milk until the sauce thickens. 
  • Separate the white/yolks from two eggs and add the beaten yolks to the sauce.
  • Add flaked fish and half the grated cheese to the sauce. Stir continuously for two to three minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Set aside.
  • Beat the remaining 4 eggs for the omelette.
  • In a heatproof frying pan, melt the remaining butter until it is brown. Add the beaten eggs. Make an omelette that has well-formed sides but whose middle is still slightly soft. Remove from heat.
  • Fold the beaten whites carefully into the sauce.
  • Spoon the fish mixture onto the top of the omelette. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on top.
  • Put the pan under the pre-heated grill (about 5cms from the heat) for 2-4 minutes until the omelette has risen and the cheese is golden brown.
  • Serve immediately from the pan, with a fresh salad.