Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Welsh Rarebit

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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www.you-made-that.com said...

My mom used to make creamed tuna over toast and we loved it growing up but I'm sure I would have loved it more with cheese in it!

Pondside said...

I haven't made this for years, but it used to be very popular for a light lunch with friends. It's real comfort food. I'll have to try your version, with the porter.

Beverly said...

I always use aged white cheddar, too. This was a favorite of mine when I was growing up.

Your mention of Jeff Smith made me smile. My father was a fan of his.

Unknown said...

I love Welsh Rarebit.. I have made it a few times, but it's been a while. This reminds me I need to make it again soon..... I love that velvety sauce!! YUM!!

Rhodesia said...

Love Welsh Rarebit and have not had it for ages :-) Have a good week Diane

Kim said...

I tried a version of Welsh rarebit once and loved it! Really have to try yours, Mary!

Tricia @ Saving room for dessert said...

Wow Mary - I had no idea that's what it was. Smooth, velvety cheese sauce sounds pretty terrific to me and it looks wonderful. Thanks for the fascinating back story!

Big Dude said...

This looks delicious Mary and while I've heard of Welsh Rarebit, I never new what it was - always assumed it was some fancy dish rather than the opposite. Since one of my favorite breakfast meals is cheese toast, I'm sure I would love this so I'll talk with the baker when the bread recipe comes out.

Anonymous said...

I prefer to call it Welsh Rabbit. I do have the ingredients on hand I should make some :)

David said...

Mary, You don't see or hear much about Welsh Rarebit much anymore. It was a staple at home back in my early years. It was one of my Scottish born stepfather's favorite things...as well as Shepherd's Pie! Thanks for the reminder... Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

QembarDelites said...

I was searching for rabbit in the ingredients and read the title again when I found none:P Looks yummy and I love watching Alton Brown's tv programmes:)

mia xara said...

I've never tried this, Mary, but it does look very appetizing!!! Have a great week!

Soupcon said...

My mom used to make a version of this without the beer when I was a kid and called it cheese sauce on toast. I loved it then I am sure I will love your version now. Yum.

Marianne said...

I have had this recipe saved for years, but I haven’t tried it because I have no idea where to find porter. What would be an acceptable substitute? Is there a well known beer brand that makes porter?

Mary Bergfeld said...

Marianne, use Guiness Stout if you are unable to find porter.

Marianne said...

Thank you so much, Mary B.! I know I can find that in my grocery store. I can’t wait to try this!

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