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Course: Appetizers
Keyword: Appetizers, British, Comfort Food, Vegetarian, Welsh Rarebit

Welsh Rarebit

ACTIVE TIME: 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
photo by Lynne Calamia
A classic English tavern snack, Welsh Rarebit is essentially a rich beer cheese fondue drizzled over toasted bread — it's cheesy comfort food at its simplest.
The English have long enjoyed topping their toast with a wide range of tasty foodstuffs, and no dish captures this tradition better than the 18th century tavern nosh known as Welsh Rabbit, which, oddly enough, contains no rabbit whatsoever. The moniker was designed as a slight by the English, who created the dish, toward the Welsh, whom they considered shifty, shiftless, and usually broke. So broke, in fact, that they might actually call a piece of cheese a rabbit...which doesn't make a lick of sense.
As for the "rarebit" variation, we can only assume it was devised in an effort to appease customers angered by the fact that there was no rabbit in their rabbit. Whatever you call it, I certainly would say that any dish that marries beer, cheese, and toast qualifies as good eats.
When I make it, I prefer to do so right in front of the fire with my camp stove, which is basically a cast iron Dutch oven with little feet on it. If you don't have one of these, I"m sure you're going to get one. But until then, just make the sauce in a heavy saucepan over low heat.
This recipe first appeared in Season 7 of Good Eats.
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  • 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 dark beer, such as porter
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 drops hot sauce
  • 4 slices toasted rye bread
ACTIVE TIME: 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Procedure

  • Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a small saucepan. Whisk in the flour and 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 the beer and whisk to combine. Pour in the cream and whisk until well combined and smooth. Gradually add the cheese, stirring constantly, until the cheese melts and sauce is smooth, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the hot sauce. Pour over toast and serve immediately.
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