The omelette Arnold Bennett is named for the novelist who was staying at the Savoy Hotel in London and would pop his head round the kitchen door to ask for an omelette containing smoked haddock. Arnold Bennett wrote famous novelks such as Anna Of The Five Towns and An Old Wives Tale. The dish is often used as a test of chef skills.
It featured as one of Marcus Wareing’s skill tests in series 8, episode 2 because it reveals how well a chef works wit the handling of fish and the creation of a hollandaise sauce for creation of this dish. Omelettes bring their own particular requirements in skills. A simple omelette is one worth trying out just to get the hang of making a decent one. Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and James Martin have all posted various types on line.
The hollandaise sauce has been prepared elsewhere but it is worth just looking at the recipe again at this level as its to be grilled rather than used as a pouring sauce.
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200 – 250g/7 – 7½oz smoked haddock. It is ideal if it is not dyed but that is not always possible.
1 bay leaf (optional)
10 black peppercorns (optional)
free-range eggs, two egg yolks for the Hollandaise and three whole eggs for a typical three-egg omelette.
40g/1½oz butter ideally clarified if possible for the Hollandaise sauce
10g white wine vinegar
15g/½oz plain flour
50g/1¾oz grated mature cheddar cheese, parmesan or gruyere cheese
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Poaching The Smoked Haddock
First up is to poach the smoked haddock in milk. Pour the milk into a large shallow pan, then add the smoked haddock. It is optional as to whether seasoning is added but some chefs may add a bay leaf and peppercorns. and bring to a simmer.
Put a little cartouche on top of the fish which is a piece of grease-proof parchment that sits on the surface of the poaching liquid and stops the haddock drying out and keeps any steam in. Not everyone does it but it does deliver the perfect fish.
Cook for five minutes, or until the fish has just cooked through and flakes when pushed gently using a fork.
Lift the fish out of the pan and set aside on a plate with a paper towel to cool slightly before gently flaking, discarding the skin.
The Hollandaise Sauce
To make the Hollandaise Sauce for the topping, whisk a couple of eggs together in a separate bowl. You can use a Bane-Marie of warm water to sit the bowl on so that the eggs warm gently and do not solidify. The egg mixture should turn much paler with aeration with all the whisking.
Add the clarified butter in stages and continue to whisk and beat in so that it forms an emulsion. Add the white wine vinegar, bay leaves and peppercorns at this stage as a hollandaise reduction unless they had been added much earlier to the poaching liquid. It should look like custard in consistency.
Whisk up some cream which is then added to the hollandaise sauce that will sit on top of the omelette for glazing. Add a squeeze of lemon and reserve for later.
Making The Omelette Arnold Bennett
Heat a frying pan until medium-hot, melt some butter in the pan. Add a beaten egg mixture and cook gently, stirring with a fork or a spatula until they just hold together. See the basic omelette recipe for how to treat the egg at this stage.
Add half the flaked fish to the top of the omelette, then roll out of the pan onto an ovenproof serving dish and top with the remaining fish. Add some grated Gruyere cheese to the omelette.
Preheat the grill to hot.
Pour the Hollandaise sauce over the top of the omelette, then scatter any other grated cheese over the top and place under the grill for 3-5 minutes, or until golden-brown and bubbling. It will cook extremely quickly so needs to be watched otherwise the surface is over-cooked.