Welsh Rarebit (Rabbit!)

18 Jul

Rarebit Rabbit All Tastes YUMI recently read a post on things on toast. I adore just about anything on toast – from gorgeous glowing tomato bruschetta to a poached egg and mushrooms to simple toast, butter and sugar (a firm favourite of my late Ayah’s). Oooh Nutella and banana!

But when I thought of things on toast at that moment, I thought of Welsh rarebit – that divine burnt cheese creation that comes from poverty (instead of rabbit, you used cheese in an alchemical mix with ale and spices). Goddess, this is good food. Simple, warming, easy to make.

And wonderfully enough, any extra is quite long lasting! You can put it in the fridge where it will firm up. From there, you can slice this cheese-beer mixture and use it to top more toast… or whatever else catches your fancy! Its phenomenal stuffed into portobello mushroom caps and grilled. Its ambrosial as the centrepiece of a grilled cheese and tomato. Im sure you can think of many other uses.

The one issue I had with rarebit is that it is mostly made with Worcestershire sauce as its primary spice ingredient. Worcestershire has many good things – vinegar, molasses, tamarind, onion, garlic and other spices (including clove and cinnamon). Unfortunately, one of its major ingredients is anchovies – a big no no for vegetarians. So I had to find an alternative, and I found it in A1 steak sauce, amazingly enough! It had most of the same ingredients as Worcestershire sauce, but without the anchovies, which would have un-vegetarian-ed this delectable meal.

Because this is basically burnt cheese on toast, you need to really layer flavours. I added some old balsamic vinegar and a touch of soy to the recipe to make up for the “lack” of anchovies. I also rubbed a cut garlic clove over the toast before putting on the cheese – subtle, but it imbues the final dish with a whisper of flavour. Its delicious, easy to make, and a perfect supper or dinner for friends and family.

For the cheese sauce you will need:

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 – 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 – 2 tsp A1 sauce
  • 1 tsp old Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup ale – I used Leffe
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups grated cheese (I used a mix of 2 parts Cheddar to 1 part red Leicester with a tad of pecorino grated in)
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 2 – 9 drops hot sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp or so soy sauce (optional to taste)

In a medium saucepan, over low heat, melt the butter. Once the butter has completely melted, add the flour, and mix well. Cook this mixture (a nominal roux), stirring all the while, until lightly toasted in colour – a light tan is good. This should take you about 3 – 5 minutes. Add the Dijon mustard, A1 sauce, balsamic and ground pepper, and mix well.

Add the ale, and stir to combine. I usually start using a whisk at this point. The roux will start to deepen the sauce, but you will be adding a few more elements to get a very rich thick final result. Add the heavy cream, and cheese, and whisk well after each addition. Continue whisking as the cheese melts well into the sauce. Make sure it does not come to a boil.

Once the cheese has completely melted, drip the beaten eggs very slowly into the mixture, whisking all the while. Once the egg is completely incorporated, continue to whisk until it is thick to your liking. It should coat the back of a spoon, and when you draw a line through the sauce, the line should stay clean. Taste. Take off heat, and add hot sauce. I usually add 9 drops because I like it a little spicy, but do what tastes good to you. A few drops will be barely traceable but it will add to the final sublime flavour.

Add salt and soy to taste. The cheese should have added quite a bit of salt already, so be gentle.

Leave to cool for a while, as you prep the toast and oven.

To serve (for 2 people – you can adjust for the number of people in your house – the cheese mixture will serve up to 8 people):

  • 4 slices good toasted bread (I used multigrain and sourdough from my favourite bakery)
  • 1 cut clove of garlic
  • a handful of micro-greens (I used pea shoots), washed and cleaned
  • a lick of olive oil and vinegar for the greens
  • 1 vinegar onion each
  • a few baby tomatoes
  • A little minced Italian parsley

First, preheat your oven broiler, and arrange your oven rack to the highest level.

Toast your bread very well. You want it well browned on both sides (this is caramelisation, and flavour!). Rub one side of each piece of toast with a cut garlic clove.

Arrange the toast, garlic rubbed side up, on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. The paper will capture any cheesy bits that come off the toasts – usually the most tasty bits!

Spoon about 2 – 4 tablespoons (depending on the size of your bread and your greed, obviously) of cooled cheese mixture over the toasts.

Broil for about 5 – 10 minutes until the cheese is burnt on top and bubbling.

While the toasts are broiling, toss the micro-greens with a tiny lick of olive oil and vinegar, and slice a few baby tomatoes.

Serve 2 toasts per person, with some micro-green salad, a few tomatoes, and a vinegared onion. Sprinkle a little minced parsley over all.

I specifically chose sharp and vinegary side dishes to cut the serious richness of the cheese toasts, but if you hate micro-greens or vinegar onions, obviously, choose what you love as sides!

Pure heaven.

6 Responses to “Welsh Rarebit (Rabbit!)”

  1. goddessmoments July 18, 2010 at 10:57 pm #

    Love welsh rarebit – anytime :-p And I’m with your Ayah 🙂 My sister Yati ‘tweaked’ our family traditional ‘toast with butter and gula please’ by adding peanut butter to the mix so it became ‘peanut butter-butter-gula please’ 🙂 Ouch my arteries! 🙂 Oh oh oh and I have to give a shout out to my late nyonya grandmother’s kaya!! Now if ever you decide to do that…. XOXOXOXOX

    • delectableblog July 18, 2010 at 11:10 pm #

      Amazing how food can have such memory. My Ayah loved the toast and gula because he said during the war, that was their big treat – like on birthdays and such. He was very urbane and sophisticated, but his eyes still lit up when he got a piece of toast, butter and sugar. I have some rarebit in the fridge for you… 🙂

      • Mariana July 19, 2010 at 7:17 am #

        Aw, now that is just toooo unfair! Knowing that you’re setting food aside for ‘others’ when I can’t have any. 😦

        This sounds so yum that I may have to overcome my normal kitchen goddess (!) laziness and attempt it … love rarebit!!

        (gula on toast applies to my dad too–and brings back sweet memories of my childhood–though he hasn’t had it for yonks as far as I know. Might serve it to him when he comes over for a visit next month LOL)

      • delectableblog July 19, 2010 at 8:43 am #

        Ana, sayang, its easy to make. 15 minutes once you have the ingredients? Nomnomnom.
        I think it must be a generational thing that toast, butter and gula 🙂 I like that our Ayahs are connected in that way, though theyd never sit and have a convo about it like we would! 😉

  2. Tammy McLeod July 18, 2010 at 11:18 pm #

    Welsh rarebit was an absolute favorite growing up. I also love the idea of a blog titled Things on Toast. Clever and I can’t think of much I wouldn’t like.

    • delectableblog July 19, 2010 at 8:42 am #

      I think I would eat anything (vegetarian) from that blog as well 🙂

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