Omelette Arnold Bennett

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.
The most famous of all, Pavlova, named after Prima Ballerina Anna Pavlova, is still a favourite dessert in homes and restaurants across the world, since its conception back in 1926. And indeed, the antipodeans seem to have the edge on culinary namesakes: Peach Melba (a fruity, ice cream concoction invented for Australian Opera singer Dame Nellie Melba by no less a culinary luminary than Auguste Escoffier), Lamingtons, and Anzac Biscuits (not strictly named after a person, but an important historical event).
It is an indication of our enduring love of good food that it is considered an fitting tribute to have a dish named after you. Indeed, even most families have a - slightly more informal - arrangement: cakes/biscuits/style of roasting chicken named after grandmothers, great Aunts, mothers. This fond sentiment is a way of retaining the memory of a loved one by remembering something wonderful that they used to do for you.
And of course, we don’t just memorialise the dead. Dishes are mostly created for living people, to observe special visits or achievements. 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. Indeed, it remains on the Savoy Menu to this day.
Reminiscent of Kedgeree but without the spices, Omelette Arnold Bennett has been somewhat forgotten, Bennett’s own literary reputation overshadowed by his supposed greed, or perhaps misplaced honesty:

"Am I to sit still and see other fellows pocketing two guineas apiece for stories which I can do better myself? Not me. If anyone imagines my sole aim is art for art’s sake, they are cruelly deceived."

This begs the question though, if a dish is good, should that be penalised because the namesake's reputation is not? Omelette Arnold Bennett is as wonderful and nourishing a breakfast, lunch or supper dish as you could hope for. It is briskly prepared, an softly cooked omelette, covered with chunks of smoked haddock, then gently swathed in double cream and cheese and finally browned under a hot grill. It is comforting and tasty.
The joy of this dish is its simplicity but also the symbiosis of the ingredients. The cream, the smoked fish, the omelette and the cheese are just made for each other.
If you have trouble locating Smoked Haddock, you could use an unsmoked but flavourful, flaky white fish or possibly even salmon. A sprinkling of Parsley would also add an interesting green element. British chef Gary Rhodes takes the dish to its absolute culinary (but fiddly) pinnacle by using the haddocks poaching milk and making a delicately infused white sauce which is then poured over the omelette. These all digress from the perfection of the original, but it is better to have something that is similar than not at all.
And here’s the recipe:
6 Free Range, Organic Eggs, beaten and seasoned with some salt and pepper
200g Undyed Smoked Haddock, poached in a little milk or water with a bay leaf and some peppercorns (about 15-20 minutes poaching time or until it starts to fall into big, creamy flakes). When cool, break up into flakes and remove any small bones and the skin.
You can also use a non-smoked flaky fish such as salmon, unsmoked haddock or cod, just be sure to poach it using the same method.
6 Tablespoons Double Cream
2 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan
20g Butter
Preheat your grill/broiler to it’s highest setting.
Melt the butter in a non-stick pan over a medium high height.
Pour in the beaten, seasoned eggs and cook until they are dry around the edges but still very moist in the middle.
Remove from the heat and sprinkle over the flaked haddock.
Spoon over the cream, ensuring that the entire omelette and fish has a thin coating all over. Sprinkle over the Parmesan and place under the hot grill.
When brown and bubbling, gently transfer to a plate and serve with perhaps a leafy salad.



Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

That a dish endures despite its namesake makes it all the more appealing, doesn't it? The combination of eggs and fish is irresistible; I'm bookmarking this recipe.

Susan said...

Well, it could be worse. There could have been an omelette named after Benedict Arnold, which is exactly how I first read the title of this post! Too little sleep and too little coffee.

Luscious dish, Freya. You're right; it's perfect for any meal.

Freya said...

That's exactly who Paul this dish was named after at first, particularly as I kept referring to him as Arnold Benedict to further confuse matters!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Sounds yummy! Nice to see you back. Hope all is well. xx

Kelly-Jane said...

Hope all is fixed now! Omlette looks great :)

Katie Zeller said...

It sounds decadent and yummy... heavy cream and smoked haddock!
True comfort food - so much better than mac & cheese, or beans on toast...

Toni said...

This sounds like it would make a perfect dinner for one of those days when you just didn't feel like cooking the usual fare.

The Savoy? Wow! Haven't thought of that hotel in years! Went there once for high tea...

Callipygia said...

I am amused by that arrogance and practicality. Perhaps this quality allowed him to afford such "rich" foods. Anyhow, it looks luscious and I am now going on search for dried haddock.

Cynthia said...

Dish me up some of those eggs and a bowl of green salad.

Anonymous said...

I can eat this for breakfast, lunch or dinner hehe, sounds great :) Have a pleasant weekend guys :)

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I love this post! I hadn't thought much about the idea of food named after celebrities, and you captured it beautifully. It seems it doesn't happen as much in the U.S. anymore, except maybe sandwiches in delis! I once saw a "Larry Tate" sandwich, and he's a fictional TV character! We should revive the practice!

Anonymous said...

I love a good egg anytime, does not matter the name. Your omelette looks like a pancake :D