From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Those of you who remember waffles for dinner on Sunday night, will also recall tonight's feature recipe. While Welsh rarebit has fallen out of fashion, back in the day it made regular appearances on American tables. At its most basic, the dish is simple and consists only of toast over which a thick cheese sauce is poured. We are told that in 18th century England the poor ate rabbit, while in Wales, where rarebit originated, the population was so poor that rabbit was replaced with cheese. While I'm sure the story is apocryphal, it does help explain how the dish got its name. There are many versions of this recipe, some of which predate the settlement of colonial America, but they all share a common base of bread and cheese. The best of them are made with a sauce so velvety that, in theory, you'll forget there is no meat. More to the point, if you are fortunate enough to have one of the best versions, you won't care that there is no meat. This happens to be one of my favorite quick-fix meals and I make it often, using soup and a small green salad to round it out and make it substantial enough to serve as a light supper. For years, I used Jeff Smith's version of rarebit, but I when I stumbled on Alton Brown's recipe, which is made with a caraway rye bread, I switched my allegiance. These days, while it is probably overkill, I make the rye bread I use, so I can control the thickness of the rarebit base. I must also admit that I've become a bit of a cheese snob. While I'm not particular about its country of origin, I insist on using an aged white cheddar for the cheese sauce. I have a simple recipe for a light rye bread that I'll share with you tomorrow, but tonight I want to focus on the cheese sauce and the assembly of the rarebit. Please give this recipe a try. You will not regret it. Here is how this fabulous version of rarebit is made.
Welsh Rarebit...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Alton Brown
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup porter beer
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 ounces (approximately 1-1/2 cups) shredded well-aged cheddar
2 drops hot sauce
4 slices lightly toasted rye bread, about 3/4-inch thick
Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly for 2 to 3 minutes, being careful not to let flour brown. Whisk in mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper until smooth. Add beer and whisk to combine. Pour in cream and whisk until well combined and smooth. Gradually add cheese, stirring constantly, until cheese melts and sauce is smooth, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add hot sauce. Pour over toast and serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings.
Note: Grate your own cheese for this dish. Already shredded cheeses include potato starch or corn starch to prevent it from sticking. That starch can cause the dish to thicken too much.
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