So many of our most famous dishes, even if they can be pinned down to a region or a place, remain slightly mysterious: who invented them; when; and where? This is not the case with Omelette Arnold Bennett.
Having a dish named in your honour is something very few can boast. Arnold Bennett , the Hanley -born novelist and journalist, is perhaps remembered as much for the omelette named after him as his writing: a pity – his work is readable, concerned with a world most of us can recognize and comprehend, and full of life.
Bennett, once he had money, enjoyed luxury, and was a regular post-theatre diner at The Savoy . When he was researching his novel Imperial Palace he stayed in the place. During that late 1920s residence the hotel's chefs created this dish for him; and he loved it so much he ate it daily there, and when travelling instructed chefs at other establishments on how to make it for him.
The Savoy still has this on its menu; their version – the classic and genuine – is rather more complex than most of us would consider using for what is a light lunch or supper course. But simplified versions abound in cookbooks and other sources: the concept is simply explained:
· Poach some finnan haddock in creamy milk with a bay leaf and peppercorns till done;
· Use the milk to make a small amount of béchamel, enrich with an egg yolk and then when cooler add the beaten white to lighten it;
· Start cooking your omelette in an oven-proof pan. When the eggs are half-done put on the cooked fish, lay the sauce over it covering all the omelette, and top with freshly grated parmesan (never ready-grated) or gruyere cheese, and put beneath a grill or in a hot oven to brown, bubble and rise the topping and finish the cooking of the eggs.
· Serve as it is cooked, open not folded-over as you would most omelettes.