Let us set the scene. It’s the late 1920’s and novelist Arnold Bennett is staying in the illustrious Savoy Hotel in London for research purposes. During his stay, a chef created a breakfast specifically for Bennett: an omelette with smoked haddock, bechamel and cheese. After perfecting it to his taste, the chef named the dish after the novelist and thus, the Omelette Arnold Bennet was sired. Still served in the Savoy today, this dish has become a fervent favourite amongst classic British restaurants in London.
It’s a deliciously indulgent dish and works equally well for lunch or supper as it does a hearty breakfast. We have chosen to make this variation using Smoked Mackerel fillets in-place of the Haddock – quickening the process by removing the need to poach the haddock first and adding an extra punch of flavour for good measure. A delicious meal for two.
150g Smoked Mackerel Fillets, boneless and skinless
4 Large Eggs, whisked
25g Gruyere Cheese, grated
Zest of ½ a Small Lemon
1 Small Bunch of Chives, finely diced
Pinch of Salt & Pepper
20g Unsalted Butter
25g Gruyere Cheese, grated
Pinch of Salt
Knob of Butter
Place a small pan over a medium-low heat and add the butter. Once the butter has fully melted, whisk in the flour and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.
Gradually add the milk to the pan, whisking as you go to prevent lumps until fully incorporated and beginning to thicken. Allow the sauce to thicken, stirring occasionally, until it reaches the consistency of custard.
Once thickened, add in the gruyere cheese, whisk together until fully incorporated and then season to taste with salt.
Keep over a very low heat whilst you prepare the omelette.
Preheat your oven under its grill setting.
Place a medium-sized frying pan over a medium heat and add a knob of butter to the pan. Once the butter is melted and is just starting to foam, add the whisked eggs into the pan. Stir the eggs quickly with a spoon or a rubber spatula, as you might when making scrambled eggs, for about 1 minute. As curds start to form and the eggs begin to coagulate and hold more of a shape, settle the eggs and allow to cook evenly on the bottom of the pan for another minute.
Once the eggs a cooked and set on the bottom of the pan but still loose and half cooked on the top, it’s time to season and add the Smoked Mackerel. Season generously with salt and pepper and then flake off small chunks of the mackerel and set into the half-cooked eggs, distributing evenly throughout. Remove from the heat.
Sprinkle over half of the chopped chives, half of the lemon zest and half of the grated cheese.
Pour over the bechamel sauce, ensuring the entire omelette is covered with a thin layer of the sauce.
Top with the remaining cheese and then place under the grill. Cook for a couple of minutes under the grill until the bechamel is golden.
Sprinkle over the remaining lemon zest and chives and serve immediately.