It seems like my streak of 17,563 days of not eating rarebit was about to be broken. These things will happen when you undertake noble quests. It’s part of the adventure. But before I dove into some fresh rarebit, I had to figure out what the hell it was.
The word rarebit is a corruption of the word rabbit so my initial thought was unless Clements was having a sale at the butcher shop on fresh conies, I would have to trap one of the bunnies that likes to run around our yard and feast on our heliopsis. While revenge on rabbits for munching on our flowers would be justified, I’m not much of a trapper or hunter and to be honest, I kind of like seeing them around (Lola even said I can tend the rabbits (and I will hug them and kiss them)). In the end however, I was pleased to discover there is actually no rabbit in rarebit.
Come to find out, rarebit is actually just cheese on melted toast. It appears that the Welsh were big fans of cheese (who is not?) and while this dish is not necessarily a Welsh invention, over time it has become attributed to them because of their fondness for cheese. I think the Welsh should be proud of that. But there are still a lot of questions that come from the name of this dish, so I think Welsh Rarebit could do with a whole new branding campaign.
I found my recipe from Food Network and The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, because naturally you want to look towards someone steeped in southwestern cooking when looking for Welsh Rarebit recipes. To be fair, the recipe I found was easy to follow and her blog was enjoyable and well detailed on instructions. I fell for her folksy style, so I think she may come up again for future recipes. I’m a sucker for that southern drawl.
I toasted my bread first – sliced pieces of baguettes lightly buttered and toasted under the broiler. That took no time at all. Then I whisked the sauce together. I started with a roux (where all good cheese sauces begin), poured in some cream and some beer and whisked it together. I used a bottle of Smithwick’s Ale that I had on hand because an Irish ale was closer to Wales in spirit than was my other option, Miller High Life. But I think the flavor of the ale added a lot to the sauce. I then added in the spices: cayenne, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and dry mustard. Adding mustard to any recipe is never my favorite (I hate mustard), but the essence of this recipe really called for that mustard flavor so I begrudgingly obliged. Then I added the cheese – fresh grated sharp cheddar. It all pulled together nicely.
I served it up as three toasts on a plate each topped with the hot sauce and garnished with some fresh chives (never underestimate the power of fresh herb garnishes). We ate it with knife and fork, although I am not sure if you are supposed to eat it with your hands as an appetizer. The fork worked out fine for me and let me swirl the bread around the plate to soak up more sauce. I really liked it. It had the flavor of cheese but also carried the taste of the ale and the spices which gave it a subtle heat at the end of every bite. It was rich and heavy – I had planned to cook dinner afterward, but it kind of filled us up – but it was a delightful taste.
I also had some leftovers too and got a great suggestion from Blog Consultant Mark Rodrigues who suggested we use it with the leftover grits – so now that’s on the breakfast menu for today! Mark also pointed out that by combining my leftovers, I could get a handle on some of my food costs which is something I appreciate too. You never like to see anything go to waste. All in all, it was the finest celebration of Welsh Rarebit I have ever witnessed. I can only hope it won’t be another 17,000 days before I try it again.
Next Up: National Macadamia Nut Day