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Welsh Rarebit

Welsh Rarebit.

Some would say Welsh Rarebit is merely the cross-channel version of the french Croque Monsieur but, it can be argued that, it commands an older recorded history. As`early as 1547,in his First Boke of the Introduction of Knowledge, Andre Boorde declared:

" I am a Welshman. I do love cause boby ( sic) good ,roasted, cheese" Welsh Rarebit or Caws Pobi ( in Welsh ) is also mentioned approvingly in Mistress Margaret Dod's "The Cook & Housewife's Manual " which was published in 1826. It is argued that the term "rare" relates to lightly cooked and the "bit" to it being a small portion; as this is traditionally seen as a snack or light supper dish. Others, more unkindly,noticing that it is sometimes called Welsh Rabbit suggest that it casts aspersions on the Welsh ability to catch meat or game (hence cheese instead of rabbit) or alludes to the historical levels of poverty in Wales implying the inhabitants would not be able to afford meat. This seems less likely given that some of the earlier recipes suggest having a layer of roast beef and horseradish under the cheese topping. The addition of egg to the mix seems a later inclusion so it is well worth experimenting with the ingredients in the following recipe.


25 grams ( 1oz ) Welsh butter

25 grams (1 oz ) flour

150 mls ( 5 fluid oz) milk

75 mls ( 2-3 fluid oz) brown ale or stout eg Brains Dark

175 grams (7oz) strong cheese eg mature cheddar

1 teaspoon mustard

1-2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

Salt & Pepper

An extra egg yolk

4 slices thick bread - toasted on one side only.

To make:

Make a paste out of the flour and butter.

Using a medium saucepan, bring milk to boil, then remove from heat

Whisk in the flour /butter paste.

Return to heat keeping whisking so it doesn't go lumpy.

Add the cheese - keep stirring as the cheese melts.

Add the beer, mustard and Worcestershire sauce keeping stirring so the mixture thickens up.

Add salt & pepper to taste.

( Whisk in egg yolk at this stage - if using)

Spoon or gently pour onto the untoasted side of the bread.

Place under hot grill until the top goes brown and bubbly.

For variety, you can add herbs , chilli , ham or bacon to the mixture. It's also suggested that pouring the mixture over roasted vegetables (rather than onto toast) makes a more hearty meal. If you want to make a Buck Rarebit, just pop a poached egg on the top before serving.

More Classic British Recipes?

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