Cook the Book: Welsh Rarebit

Cook the Book: Welsh Rarebit
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Photograph from adactio on Flickr

20090525-ctb-endangered-recipes.jpgI have always intrigued by Welsh rarebit. Is it really Welsh? Why does the name sound so much like rabbit? What's a rarebit anyway? I did a little poking around, and here is what I've found. Welsh rarebit was originally called Welsh rabbit. Why rabbit? Well, in eighteenth century England, rabbit was the meat you ate if you were poor, and the Welsh were so poor that they couldn't afford rabbit, so they ate cheese. Unfortunately how rabbit became rarebit remains a mystery.

Lari Robling's Welsh rarebit from Endangered Recipes is a slightly dressed up version of cheese on toast. Using the best-quality English beer and cheese you can find will turn this simple dish into something really delicious. While sliced tomatoes are the traditional accompaniment, Robling likes to serve Welsh rarebit with a creamy tomato soup.

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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup English beer or ale
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound English Farmhouse Cheddar, finely diced (about 2 cups)
  • 6 slices white bread, such as Pullman or sandwich loaf, crusts removed, cut in half on the diagonal and toasted

Directions

  1. 1.

    In a double boiler, mix beer, mustard, cayenne, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook over simmering water and add cheese by the handfuls, stirring constantly to make a smooth sauce.

  2. 2.

    In a 9-inch pie plate, layer toast triangles. Pour sauce over bread and broil until cheese is bubbly, 2 to 3 minutes.