Welsh Rabbit (Rarebit)
Like so many classic foods, the origin of Welsh Rabbit (also called Rarebit) has lots of lore associated with it. Some say its proper name is indeed Welsh 'Rabbit' because it's supposedly what rabbit hunters ate when they came home from a hard day's work. Another explanation is that 'rabbit' was a humorous term used to describe a melted cheese dish with ale, served on crackers. Another version has it that a Welsh chef tried to pass the dish off as rabbit. It is not seen on many menus these days, but rabbit hunting or not, it's definitely a dish worth considering when the days are long and cold. For a Dutch version try making it with Gouda cheese and a Dutch beer.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup beer or ale
1 3/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Dash of cayenne pepper
4 to 6 slices hearty bread, toasted
8 slices smoked bacon, cooked (optional)
8 slices tomato (optional)
- In a medium-size saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir vigorously for 1 minute. Add the beer and stir just until the bubbles start to subside, about 30 minutes. Add the cheese, Worcestershire, mustard, and cayenne. Stir constantly until the cheese melts and the mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Place the toast slices on individual plates and top with the cheese mixture. If you like, place bacon and/or tomato slices on top of the cheese. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 to 6 servings