It's only through wiki that I found out that Arnold Bennett was an English writer and it was for him that they invented this breakfast at the Savoy in London which should forever carry his name and feature in every other English cookbook. (His contemporary Virginia Woolf didn't think much of him, but maybe she was just jealous that there is no famous breakfast in her name).
This current recipe is from Marcus Wareing's "How to cook the perfect..." which has become a bit of a reference book for all things cooking - the recipes are not necessarily awe-inspiring stunners in the sense that you've never seen them before, but rather fool-proof instructions for classics such as custard tart, flapjacks, onion soup and fish pie. With every recipe, you get valuable techniques that make it a success every time and even hints for when disaster does strike, like how to rekindle a split mayonnaise etc. So even if I might use a different recipe for a given thing, I might still consult this book to brush up on the techniques or rescue something I thought was lost.
Back to Bennett, though. Looking at what this "omelette" is composed of, he really must have had "unhealthy" written in bold letters across his forehead, but that's no reason not to love the man? Half-set omelette and poached smoked haddock isn't that bad, I guess, but add to it a liberal sprinkle of cheese and a generous topping of sauce hollandaise before you put it under the grill for a few minutes, and you've got yourself a sure recipe for a cardiac arrest if consumed daily. (And I bet the poor guy hadn't even heard of the Atkins diet!)
But we're not having this every day, we're only indulging in it every once in a while and I guess that's OK. Seeing how substantial and hearty this dish is, this is actually one of the few egg dishes that I prefer to enjoy as a dinner, rather than at the start of the day - add a fresh salad for a few vitamins and suddenly it seems a much more viable choice of a dish. Moreish it is in any case, never mind the calories!
Omelette Arnold Bennett*
(serves 2 as a lunch or dinner)
250 g undyed smoked haddock fillet (skin and bones removed)
300 ml milk
6 large eggs
50 g butter
70 g grated hard cheese (emmental, comte, gruyere)
chives, for sprinkling
For the Hollandaise:
4 large egg yolks
130 g butter
juice of half a lemon
dash white wine vinegar
50 g water
salt and white pepper for seasoning
To make the hollandaise, whisk ingredients in a bowl over hot water until the sauce thickens and your arm falls off.
If, like me, you have a Thermomix, however, weigh all ingredients directly into the mixing bowl, set timer to 3 minutes, temperature to 70C and speed to 3. If, like me, you like your sauce quite thick and onctuous, add another 2 minutes at 80C, speed staying the same.
While the Thermomix is doing its thing, place the haddock in a pot with enough milk to just cover it. Poach gently for about 3 minutes, then remove from the milk and flake.
Beat the eggs for the omelette and fry in the butter until starting to set.
Arrange 2 layers of omelette and fish flakes each on two plates, then sprinkle with the cheese and adorn with dollops of sauce. Place under the preheated grill for a few minutes until the sauce is gently browning and bubbling. Sprinkle with chives.
Serve instantly with some bread and salad on the side.
* Based on a recipe in Marcus Wareing's "How to cook the perfect...", recipe for Sauce Hollandaise from the Thermomix cookbook.