You’re toast if you don’t hop on over to the pantry and celebrate today’s food holiday with us. September 3 is National Welsh Rarebit Day!
At first, I was worried that we were going to have to eat a bunny today, but it turns out the name “rarebit” is an ironic stab at humor. It turns out that Welsh peasants weren’t allowed to eat the rabbits caught in hunts; these were reserved for nobility (in other words, rich wankers). While rabbits were considered “poor man’s meat” across the pond in jolly ol’ England, in Wales they fetched a much higher price. Cheese, on the other hand, was considered a meal for the poor. So the crafty Welsh simply substituted cheese and called it “Welsh rabbit.” Since there wasn’t any actual rabbit in the dish – a minor detail, to be sure – the name was jokingly changed to rarebit. Oh, those humorous Europeans!
Welsh rarebit is similar to fondue, but cheddar is used instead of Swiss. The dish is simple to make, and considered a hearty and delicious tavern dish in Wales. It’s made by melting cheddar cheese, adding beer and other ingredients (butter, mustard, Worcestershire, seasonings), and serving over toast. Kind of an inside-out grilled cheese sandwich, if you will. I’m game!
Tara and I made welsh rarebit as an appetizer. We turned to Alton Brown for a basic recipe, and just made a few minor substitutions.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup beer
3/4 cup heavy cream (or milk)
6 ounces (approximately 1 1/2 cups) shredded Cheddar
2 drops hot sauce
4 slices toasted bread
In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook, whisking constantly for 2 to 3 minutes, being careful not to brown the flour. Whisk in mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper until smooth. Add beer and whisk to combine. Pour in cream and whisk until well combined and smooth. Gradually add cheese, stirring constantly, until cheese melts and sauce is smooth; this will take 4 to 5 minutes. Add hot sauce. Pour over toast and serve immediately.
We thought it was delicious, very much like fondue!