Friday, April 17, 2009

Welsh Rarebit or Rabbit

There is some controversy as to whether this dish should be called Welsh Rarebit or Rabbit. It’s generally supposed that the term Rabbit came first, and Rarebit was a later corruption of the word. In the Welsh language it is called Caws Pobi, which means roasted cheese, so no clues there.

The term Rabbit seems to make more sense, as according to Wikipedia: "It may be an ironic name coined in the days when the Welsh were notoriously poor. Only better-off people could afford butcher's meat, and while in England rabbit was the poor man's meat, in Wales the poor man's meat was cheese."

There is a long tradition of cheese making in Britain, and British cheeses are amongst the best in the world, small wonder then that cheese appears in so many of our recipes. We have been toasting, baking, grilling, and roasting cheese since time immemorial but, as with most classic British dishes, the secret lies in the ingredients.

Welsh Rabbit is a simple dish, Americans would call it, grilled cheese, but it is anything but grilled cheese. What lifts this recipe out of the ordinary is the use of good quality ingredients, or the best you can find. Trust me you’ll notice the difference.

This recipe is taken from Brian Turner’s Favourite British Recipes. My hubby, being an engineer, calls this Rev A, as the first time I made it I didn’t read the instructions properly (so what's new?), hence the need for revision. :-) The recipe said to refrigerate the cheese sauce overnight – whoops -but I was ready to rock and roll. The first version, slapped on the toast right out of the pan was goood, but Rev A knocked it out the water. So here we go.

Welsh Rabbit - Rev. A


¼ cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon beer or ale. It's best to use a British beer such as Bass ale, Newcastle Brown, or even Guiness. I used Newcastle Brown, (or Nuclear Brown as it is affectionately known). You may think that a bit extravagant when only using 1 tbsp. but use Budweiser, or any other home grown, at your peril. At a pinch you could use a good micro-brew, but why spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar?

1 teaspoon English mustard – I used Coleman’s English, but if you can’t get that use a good Dijon – anything but that yellow paste mustard.

8 ounces mature cheddar, shredded. If you can get an English cheddar do, but the best I could come up with here is Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Cheddar, or a New York Cabot would work.

A dash of Worcestershire sauce

2 egg yolks, lightly beaten

4 thick slices of bread (in England we call these doorstops), from an unsliced loaf. The best I could come up with was a sourdough loaf, and that worked out pretty good, but use bread that doesn’t come pre-sliced.

  • Heat cream in a medium saucepan over a medium heat until tiny bubbles form on surface. Stir in ale and heat again.
  • Remove pan from heat and stir in mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and cheese. Return pan to burner on a low heat, and stir constantly until cheese melts.
  • Remove pan from heat again and stir in eggs until fully combined.
  • Pour into a bowl, and allow mix to cool. Refrigerate until following day.
  • Place 4 thick slices of bread on a baking sheet and toast (one side only) under a hot broiler. Spread cheese mixture on untoasted side of bread, and return to broiler until cheese is golden brown.

Variations: You can add a poached egg on top of the cheese, this is known as a Buck Rabbit.

Or for a little more pep, spread the bread with a little HP brown (or A1 steak) sauce before adding the cheese.


Cheryl said...

OH MY GOSH I am soo making this, I love cheese! Thanks for sharing!

Denise said...

Sounds delicious and will be making this over the weekend. Thanks Jan.

Donna-FFW said...

My goodness Jan this looks soo soo delicious. I love the sound and looks of this. Cheesy delicious bread, heavy cream.. Its like a bite of Heaven

Lynda said...

Jan, this looks so enticing!All that creamy cheese on top of that bread is major Yum.
I also enjoyed the history behind the dish as I've always wondered why it was called rabbit when there was no rabbit. Thanks for the great post!

Sophie said...

OOOH Jan, I love Brian turner's recipes too!
Now, this is typical English & yummie!
Now, I want this for a late breakfast! thanks!

Mediterranean kiwi said...

i've always wanted to know which the corerct term was - this looks, yummy, and i know what you mean when you say to use good quality ingredients

i've always wanted to try this - i think i will with cretan cheese, looks great

Pam said...

I have always wondered what Welsh Rarebit was. This sounds so rich and divine! Great post Jan.

Jason said...

I have to make this dish immediately, it's the best version of a grilled cheese I have ever seen! I love the name too, it's really funny.

Sara said...

My husband has been asking me to make welsh rarebit for AGES! I am going to try this, he will be so happy.

Kevin said...

All of that melted dripping cheese looks so good! You can't go wrong with grilled cheese.

The Blonde Duck said...

I'm going to have to make this! This looks much better than American grilled cheese!

Paula said...

Ohhh yeah, I'll be making me some Rev A! This looks so lovely. I wonder if plain Texas toast bread would work? Love the door stop name! Ha! And, of course, I'll have to try both versions ... with and without egg. YUM!

Jason said...

Jan, are you sick again? I hope not, just haven't heard from you in a while :)

Paula said...

Jan ... where ... are ... you? I hope all is well. Miss your posts! :-)