Monday, January 28, 2008

Welsh Rabbit (Rarebit) Recipe

A lot of words have been spent justifying calling melted cheese on toast Welsh Rabbit or Rarebit. The consensus seems to be that Rabbit is the original phrase.

Ken’s dad was arguably the world’s most un-creative cook. If you’ve ever suffered through “pizza” topped with canned tomato sauce, pieces of cooked ham, and canned green chilies, you’d understand. Anyway, he did have one excellent signature creation – Welsh Rabbit.

Our version is pretty close to Dad’s. It’s basically a roux white sauce, to which beer and cheddar cheese is added. It works well thick over toast, or thinner as a cheddar cheese sauce for vegetables, baked potatoes, or other dishes. Here’s our version (remember, we don’t measure much).

  • Melt 2-3 tbsp of butter in a saucepan
  • Add equal quantity of flour, cook on low heat for a minute or so
  • Add maybe 1/4 cup milk, and stir constantly
  • Add some beer (another 1/4 cup) - a good beer, please, not some watery American "light"
  • Season with some combination of prepared Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, white pepper, sage, thyme, a tiny pinch of nutmeg, and either a dash of cayenne or a shake of Tabasco-type sauce
  • Add grated Cheddar cheese 1/2 cup at a time, alternating cheese with beer until you have your desired consistency (thicker for traditional Rabbit over toast; thinner as a cheese sauce)

Tonight we had a thinner sauce over leftover broccoli-mushroom popovers and some pan-braised asparagus (please don’t ask us where that came from in January). Our wines were leftovers, too – a dry Riesling for Francesca and a hearty Zinfandel for Ken. Both worked well.