The omelette Arnold Bennett has been on the menu at London’s Savoy Hotel ever since the author asked the kitchen to serve him smoked haddock in omelet form sometime around the turn of the twentieth century. Today, The Savoy’s version has strayed from the original recipe (among other things, it includes garlic and thyme, and uses a mix of cheddar and Gruyère), and other variations on the formula abound. Some call for the omelet to be folded over like a classic French omelet, though the original was served open-faced. This is a reasonably simple interpretation, worked out by trial and error, which nonetheless captures what I believe to be the spirit of the original.
Recipe excerpted from cookbook The British Table: A New Look at the Traditional Cooking of England, Scotland, and Wales by Colman Andrews. Click here to purchase your own copy.
- 1 1/4 Cup (300 ml) whole milk
- 8 Ounces (225 g) smoked haddock, skin and bones removed
- 4 Tablespoons (½ stick / 55 g) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
- 2 rounded tablespoons all-purpose flour
- salt and freshly ground white pepper
- 1/2 Cup (50 g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
Heat the milk over medium-high heat (do not let it boil) in a saucepan large enough to hold the haddock. Add the haddock, reduce the heat to medium, and cover the saucepan. Cook the haddock, for about 4 minutes, turning it once.
Remove the haddock from the milk and set it aside. Reserve the milk.
Preheat the broiler. Grease a small baking sheet or dish lightly with butter.
In a separate saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons (30 g) of the butter over low heat, then stir in the flour to make a roux. Stir in the reserved milk to make a thick sauce. When the haddock is cool enough to handle, flake it into the sauce and stir well. Remove the pan from the heat. Season the haddock mixture with a little salt (the haddock will be salty) and white pepper, and stir in about 1 tablespoon of the cheese.
Melt 1 tablespoon (15 g) of the butter in a nonstick omelet pan or skillet over medium heat and pour in half the beaten eggs. Stir the eggs with a wooden spoon, then cook for about a minute, or until the bottom is set but the top is still runny. Spoon half the haddock mixture onto the omelet, spreading it out gently with the back of a wooden spoon to cover the omelet’s surface.
Carefully transfer the omelet to the prepared baking sheet or dish, then repeat the process with the remaining ingredients to make a second omelet.
Scatter the remaining cheese evenly over the omelets, then broil for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown and bubbling.