Welsh What?? I know, the name tells you nothing about the dish, but it’s really just cheese fondue, simplified; a creamy cheese sauce, spiked with beer, rounded out with mustard, and poured over toast. The dish, referred to as 'Welsh rabbit’ by some (don't worry, I'll explain later), gets its name quite literally from the words rare (meaning very lightly cooked) and bit (a small piece or portion).
No matter what you call it, it makes for an ideal savory snack. Try it for Sunday morning brunch with some freshly brewed coffee, then use the leftover Welsh rarebit later on poached eggs, baked potatoes, cauliflower, or asparagus.
Here is what you will need for this recipe (my sister, Sarah, requested this one, so you have her to thank for this delicious culinary endeavor)..
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Bell's Porter
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 ounces (approximately 1 1/2 cups) shredded Cheddar
2 drops hot sauce
4 slices toasted rye bread
In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. 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 beer and whisk to combine.
Pour in cream and whisk until well combined and smooth.
Gradually add cheese, stirring constantly, until cheese melts and sauce is smooth; this will take 4 to 5 minutes. Add hot sauce.
Pour over toast and serve immediately.
Use the sharpest cheddar you can get. If you can find a premium cheddar, that is even better--examples are Coastal (sold at Costco) or Tillamook. The Bell's Porter is essential for adding a nice tangy bite, while still allowing the dark, roasted malt flavor and just a hint of smokiness of the beer to come through. I actually added quite a bit more than two drops of hot sauce, but figured two would be a good starting point for most people. If you dont want it hot, this is optional--a plainer version without heat is great for kids or those that just don't like the heat. Similarly, light rye is awesome, but a nice thick slice of toasted french would work for those wanting a milder dish.
So, what's with calling it "Welsh rabbit" instead? It may be an ironic name coined in the days when the Welsh were notoriously poor: only wealthy 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. The implication, of course, was that the Welsh could not obtain or afford real rabbit and had to make do with this cheesy substitute. Both Welsh rabbit and Welsh rarebit are considered to be right, and it's still delicious either way, so I say just call it whatever you want.