Welsh Rarebit Recipe
2 oz plain flour
400g grated Farmhouse Cheddar
6 oz fresh white breadcrumbs
120ml Ale, Guinness or Cider
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 heaped tsp dry English mustard power
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
freshly ground black pepper
slices of bread
2. Cook until the mixture starts to leave the side of the saucepan.
3. Take the pan off the heat and allow to cool. Put in food processor and add the eggs and mix for about 1 minute. Add pepper to taste.
4. Allow the mixture to cool and store in refrigerator for up to five days.
5. Slice and put on toasted bread and place under hot grill until browned and golden.Welsh rarebit
Welsh rarebit or Welsh rabbit is a dish made with a savoury sauce of melted cheese and various other ingredients and served hot over toast. The names of the dish originate from 18th century Great Britain. Welsh rarebit is typically made with Cheddar cheese, in contrast to the Continental European fondue which classically depends on Swiss cheeses.
“Eighteenth-century English cookbooks reveal that it was then considered to be a luscious supper or tavern dish, based on the fine cheddar-type cheeses and the wheat breads […] . Surprisingly, it seems there was not only a Welsh Rabbit, but also an English Rabbit, an Irish and a Scotch Rabbit, but nary a rarebit.”
Various recipes for Welsh rarebit include the addition of ale, mustard, ground cayenne pepper or ground paprika and Worcestershire sauce. The sauce may also be made by blending cheese and mustard into a Béchamel sauce or Mornay sauce. Some recipes for Welsh rarebit have become textbook savoury dishes listed by culinary authorities including Escoffier, Saulnier and others, who tend to use the form Welsh rarebit, emphasising that it is not a meat dish. In the United States, a frozen prepared sauce sold under the Stouffer’s brand name can be found in supermarkets.
Acknowledging that there is more than one way to make a rarebit, some cookbooks have included two recipes: the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book of 1896 provides one béchamel-based recipe and another with beer, Le Guide Culinaire of 1907 has one with ale and one without, and the Constance Spry Cookery Book of 1956 has one with flour and one without.
The term rarebit is to some extent used for variants on the dish, especially buck rarebit which has a poached egg added, either on top of or beneath the cheese sauce.
Kentucky Hot Brown is a variant that adds turkey and bacon to the traditional rarebit recipe.
Welsh rabbit blended with tomato (or tomato soup) is known as Blushing Bunny.
Origin of the names
The first recorded use of the term Welsh rabbit was in 1725, but the origin of the term is unknown. It may be an ironic name coined in the days when the Welsh were notoriously poor: only better-off people could afford butcher’s meat, and while in England rabbit was the poor man’s meat, in Wales the poor man’s meat was cheese. It might also be understood as a slur against the Welsh: if a Welshman went rabbit hunting, this would be his supper.
It is also possible that the dish was attributed to Wales because the Welsh were considered particularly fond of cheese, as evidenced by Andrew Boorde in his Fyrst Boke of the Introduction of Knowledge (1542), when he wrote “I am a Welshman, I do love cause boby, good roasted cheese.” In Boorde’s account, “cause boby” is the Welsh caws pobi, meaning “baked cheese”. It is the earliest known reference to cheese being eaten cooked in the British Isles but whether it implies a recipe like Welsh rarebit is a matter of speculation.
The term Welsh rarebit is evidently a later corruption of Welsh rabbit, being first recorded in 1785 by Francis Grose. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘Welsh rarebit’ is an “etymologizing alteration. There is no evidence of the independent use of rarebit”.
Michael Quinion writes: “Welsh rabbit is basically cheese on toast (the word is not ‘rarebit’ by the way, that’s the result of false etymology; ‘rabbit’ is here being used in the same way as ‘turtle’ in ‘mock-turtle soup’, which has never been near a turtle, or ‘duck’ in ‘Bombay duck’, which was actually a dried fish called bummalo)”.
The entry in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage is “Welsh rabbit, Welsh rarebit” and states: “When Francis Grose defined Welsh rabbit in A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue in 1785, he mistakenly indicated that rabbit was a corruption of rarebit. It is not certain that this erroneous idea originated with Grose….”
In his 1926 edition of the Dictionary of Modern English Usage, the grammarian H. W. Fowler states a forthright view: “Welsh Rabbit is amusing and right. Welsh Rarebit is stupid and wrong.”
The word rarebit has no other use than in Welsh rabbitand “rarebit” alone has come to be used in place of the original name.
Legends and humour
A legend mentioned in Betty Crocker’s Cookbook claims that Welsh peasants were not allowed to eat rabbits caught in hunts on the estates of the nobility, so they used melted cheese as a substitute. The cookbook writes that Ben Jonson and Charles Dickens ate Welsh rarebit at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a pub in London. There is no good evidence for any of this; what is more, Ben Jonson died almost a century before the term Welsh rabbit is first attested.
According to the American satirist Ambrose Bierce, the continued use of rarebit was an attempt to rationalise the absence of rabbit, writing in his 1911 Devil’s Dictionary: “RAREBIT n. A Welsh rabbit, in the speech of the humorless, who point out that it is not a rabbit. To whom it may be solemnly explained that the comestible known as toad in the hole is really not a toad, and that ris de veau à la financière is not the smile of a calf prepared after the recipe of a she-banker.”