No rabbits were used/harmed in the making of this delicious, toasty-cheese snack. Rarebit is pronounced like a Northern Southerner would say rabbit and the word rarebit is often substituted for rabbit. It's all a bit confusing when you consider this is not a meat dish, it's nothing more than a cheese sauce but a very delectable one at that! Speaking of confusing...the mister asked me to be sure to let him know how much I earned this past year. Beginning January 1st the mister is consumed with the state of our taxes. He likes to think about them, talk about them but until April 15th he doesn't actually do anything about them - other than stew. He's mastered Tax stewing, if only that were edible and deductible! So when he asked me about my earnings, I wasn't sure how to respond, because while I do work for the mister, he doesn't pay me...well that's not entirely true, as I have confessed before, I have the same deal Donald Trump made with Ivana years ago; I get paid $1 a year and all the dresses I want. You might think that's a pretty sweet deal but a buck just doesn't go as far as it used to and I don't wear dresses! I asked the mister what JOB he thought I was working to provide earnings and he said, "You know, you're always off doing crap, taking dinner places, don't you get paid for that?" Once again, I had to explain to the mister what a VOLUNTEER is...not a Tennessee Volunteer, a team with a losing streak, but a person who offers to help out and in return is paid with a smile. How could he not know that?? I tell you, he is bucking for a Marital Section 8! He mumbled something about having all kinds of deductions that he would now not be able to use because I was a volunteer - thankfully his knuckles didn't scratch the hardwood as he scurried off. And people think I'm the dumb one. Sheesh!
Okay, let's get to the making of this very simple yet sophisticated cheese toast. (I was certain I had posted this recipe before, because I make this several times during the winter months, but I couldn't find hide nor hare of it!)
Welsh Rarebit is a thick cheese sauce, like a Bechamel Sauce, and it's made with cheese, of course, and beer and spices. It's spread quite thickly over crusty, toasted bread and then placed under the broiler until it's bubbly hot...I'm telling you straight, it's dang good! If you put an egg on top (which of course I wouldn't because I don't eat eggs) then it's called a Buck Rabbit or a Golden Buck and if you serve it with tomato soup it's called a Blushing Bunny! You can read all about Welsh Rarebit on Wikipedia - this traditional British dish has a very long and complicated history!
I've made just a few teensy-weensy changes to Mark Bittman's recipe - I use non-alcoholic beer because the beer flavor is not as intense (think beer-cheese soup like they serve in MinneSNOWta and Wisconsin, and you'll have an idea of why this is so loved!) The darker the beer the stronger the flavor, so if you use a dark ale, like Bittman suggests, it will blow your taste bud's minds!
Welsh Rarebit also makes a great appetizer - just cut each toast into small pieces and serve. Your guests will not be able to stop eating them so make a double batch. You can see in the picture that I didn't stir the rarebit until it was completely smooth - I made an executive decision, one I don't regret, and decided to leave some larger pieces of cheese. I recommend you do the same.
1 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
3/4 cup beer, or ale (or use near beer, like I do, it provides the beer flavor without the alcohol, an ale or dark beer will have a more pronounced flavor)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
1 pound Cheddar cheese (or other good semi-hard cheese, like Comte or Gruyere or a mixture of cheeses), grated
salt and pepper to taste
4 to 8 lightly toasted pieces of bread (use a good bread, French bread sliced thick works great)
Put butter in a saucepan over medium heat and, as it melts, stir in flour. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and very fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in mustard and cayenne, then whisk in beer and Worcestershire sauce. When mixture is uniform, turn heat to low and stir in cheese, again stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and pour into a board contain (like a rimmed plate) to set. At this point you can refrigerate for up to two days. After mixture has set and cooled to room temperature, spread thickly on toast and put under broiler until bubbly and edges of toast are crisp. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 8, as a side/snack, depending on how many pieces and how big the bread is sliced. Served with a nice green salad or soup and this makes a great dinner!