Wait a minute… say it again? Welsh rarebit… rabbit… Am I going to feed you a rabbit? NO, it doesn’t have any bunny in it. I’ve heard they are a delicious delicacy, but they look too cute to be on my platter. Instead, how about this cheesy mess on a piece of toast? A fancy looking, glorified open faced cheese toast. The rich, sharp, intense cheddar cheese sauce poured over some hearty bread and broiled to bubbly perfection.
A Welsh classic. Maybe the most famous export from wales… besides Catherine Zeta Jones, of course. 😉
Brits have an eccentric sense of humor, or rather humour, when it comes to naming their food. Do you know “Toad in the hole”? It’s sausages cooked in Yorkshire pudding batter. It sounds very very delicious, but the name! How about Bubble and Squeak (fried leftover veggies), Angels on Horseback (oysters wrapped in bacon), Singing Hinnies (sweet griddle cakes or scones)… and so many more. Many of them will be featured on GypsyPlate, but let’s figure out this Welsh rarebit first…
What is Welsh Rarebit?
Welsh rarebit, in it’s simplest form, is cheese sauce over bread. It was born as “Welsh rabbit” in 18th century Britain, somewhere in South Wales Valleys. There are plenty of legends and folklore surrounding this simple dish.
Many believe that the name came in as a slur against the Welsh by the English, implying that the Welsh were so poor they had to eat melted cheese instead of rabbit. For the peasants it was even illegal to hunt in the Nobles’ forest without permission.
It’s also possible that it got it’s name based on the belief that Welsh people are fond of their cheese. Whatever the case, it has never had rabbit in it. And maybe that’s why over the years the rabbit got altered to rarebit. Or maybe it was reinvented by the Welsh to sound fancier, or perhaps by the English to erase the earlier insult… whatever, it’s mostly rarebit now!
There are various ways to eat this dish. Some just pour the sauce over toast, nice and simple. Some like to broil it a bit. Some like it with additional toppings. If you add fried or poached eggs on top it’s called “Buck Rabbit”. You can blend it with tomato or tomato soup to make a “Blushing Bunny”… hmm, didn’t I tell you they are funny when comes to naming their foods? Anyways, there is even a national Welsh Rarebit Day, and falls on September 3rd every year. Surely this rabbit has come a long ways!
- Bread – You would want some hearty bread that can hold the cheese sauce. We used our no knead bread, pictured above.
- Cheese – Loads of sharp cheddar to create cheesy gooeyness.
- Butter – To make the roux.
- Flour – Yup, the roux.
- Beer – Something a bit darker, and preferably British. Newcastle, maybe??
- Worcestershire sauce – British flavors here.
- Spices – Paprika and mustard powder to create a little zing.
- Milk – Adds creaminess.
- Salt and pepper
- Tomatoes – I am using cherry tomatoes on mine, ‘cause I love them. And the idea of roasted tomatoes on cheese toast sounds very very inviting.
- Thyme – Fresh… for garnishing (optional)
- AND NO RABBIT HERE – Yup, didn’t I tell you in the beginning… 🙂
How to make your cheese sauce, in simple steps
- In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Slowly mix in your flour until you have a smooth roux.
- Next, stir in your dry spices; mustard, paprika, salt and pepper.
- Slowly, while continuously stirring, mix in the milk followed by the beer. If it seems to be getting clumpy at any point, add the liquid more slowly, making sure everything gets very well mixed.
- Mix in your Worcestershire sauce and cheese. Taste and adjust salt and pepper… Easy!
Assembling your ‘rabbit’
- Preheat your oven to 400°F. Drizzle your cherry tomatoes with a little olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt and pepper. Roast them in preheated oven for 10 minutes, or till they start blistering a bit. Remove and set aside.
- Take a loaf of some nice chunky bread and cut thick slices (it can get soggy if too thin). Place them in the oven briefly, just enough to get slightly toasted.
- Once all the parts are ready, pour the cheese sauce generously over the toast and give it a quick broil in the oven till the sauce starts to bubble. Remove from the oven, top with those beautiful roasted tomatoes, sprinkle some fresh thyme and serve!
People often ask:
If this is becoming your new favourite and you want it more often, we recommend making a giant pile of cheesy sauce and refrigerating in an air tight container. All you have to do is make some toast, heat up the sauce and pour it over the for an easy version.
Yes. Though the flavor will not be as robust, you can use more milk in its place.
Try it with pieces of some fried bacon, yum. Some fried or poached eggs also go great. If you want another veggie option, try some wilted spinach. Play around with different fresh herbs like parsley or chives.
Are you ready to try this Welsh rarebit in your kitchen guys? Heed my words, if you like cheese on toast this is for you. Try it for breakfast with some nice coffee or for supper with a pint of ale… Cheers to the invisible Rabbit!!
Welsh Rarebit, on my Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 8oz Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- 2 Tbsp Butter
- 2 Tbsp Flour
- 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tsp Mustard powder
- 1/2 cup Beer
- 1/2 cup Milk
- 1/2 tsp Paprika
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Pepper
- 4 slices of bread
- 8 oz Cherry tomatoes
- 1-2 Thyme sprigs (optional)
- Over medium heat,melt butter in a sauce pan.
- Slowly stir in flour to create a smooth roux.Stir in paprika, salt, pepper, mustard powder.
- Slowly stir in milk followed by beer.
- Once you have smooth consistency,add in cheese and Worcestershire sauce.
- Pre-heat oven to 400°F.
- Drizzle olive oil over cherry tomatoes along with sea salt and pepper.
- Roast tomatoes in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and set it aside.
- Cut bread into slices of desired thickness. Place it in oven until they are slightly toasted.
- Remove bread slices, place on oven sheet and top it with generous spoonful of cheese sauce.
- bake it until cheese sauce begins to bubble.
- Remove toasts from oven, top it with cherry tomatoes, sprinkle fresh thyme and serve.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 421Total Fat 27gSaturated Fat 15gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 74mgSodium 893mgCarbohydrates 26gFiber 2gSugar 4gProtein 18g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
Never miss a recipe!
Join the GypsyPlate mailing list and get easy dinner recipes right in your mailbox. From homestyle comfort food to exotic dishes from around the world.