How To Make Welsh Rarebit (aka Welsh Rabbit!)
Welsh Rarebit - So Much More Than "Just" Cheese On Toast!
Welsh Rarebit is a delicious traditional British dish. It's often known as "Welsh Rabbit" for reasons that aren't really known for sure, but are probably simply down to mispronunciation, as there's no rabbit or any other kind of meat in it!
Welsh Rarebit consists of toasted bread covered with cheese that has been melted in beer or milk with mustard, pepper and Worcester sauce.
It's then grilled (broiled) and served very hot so the cheese is bubbling and golden brown.
There's lots of variations on the basic theme of Welsh Rarebit too - it's very versatile and easy to make.
In Welsh, Welsh Rarebit is called Caws Pobi which literally translated means "roasted cheese"!
On this page you'll find everything you ever wanted to know about how to make Welsh Rarebit (or Welsh Rabbit!), including Welsh Rarebit recipes, videos and some interesting facts about this much loved classic British dish!
Welsh Rarebit Dates Back To At Least 1542!
In 1542 in the world's earliest known international guidebook, "Fyrst Boke of the Introduction of Knowledge", the author Andrew Boorde, wrote:
"I am a Welshman. I do love cause boby, good roasted cheese"
* "cause boby" = Caws Pobi...better known as Welsh Rarebit!
Is Welsh Rarebit Just A Posh Name For Cheese On Toast?
What's The Difference Between Welsh Rarebit And Cheese On Toast?
Look at the picture on the right - it's unquestionably cheese on toast. OK, it's strictly speaking cheese on toast made more interesting by the addition of a sliced tomato, but essentially, it's simply a slice of toast with some cheese on top. All that is required to prepare cheese on toast is some bread and cheese and some means of grilling the bread. Adventurous people grill the cheese as well, but even if the cheese is ungrilled, it's still cheese on toast. Simple, uncomplicated and quick to put together.
Is Welsh Rarebit in any way similar? Well, it's preparation does include toast and cheese, but the similarity pretty much ends there. So what actually is Welsh Rarebit?
Let's start with an academic definition. Merriam-Webster tell us that Welsh Rarebit is:
"melted cheese served on toast or crackers"
Crackers? Where on earth have they got that idea from? That's not even cheese on toast...that's a cheese board gone wrong...
As Merriam Webster weren't much help, let's take a look at what OxfordDictionaries.com have to say on the subject. They define Welsh Rarebit as:
"a dish of melted and seasoned cheese on toast, sometimes with other ingredients."
That's pretty vague isn't it - what are these "other ingredients" they refer to?
Perhaps Wiktionary can shed some light on what constitutes Welsh Rarebit...according to their writers, Welsh Rarebit is:
"a dish of cheese melted with a little ale and served on toast"
Now we're getting somewhere! Let's move on from mainstream dictionaries and see if a dedicated food encyclopedia can help us out.
Larousse Gastronomique, the world famous classic "encyclopedia of food, wine & cookery" lists the ingredients of Welsh Rarebit as:
- Sandwich bread
- Cheddar Cheese
In traditional Welsh Rarebit, a sauce is made from cheese combined with beer (ale) and mustard powder and the resulting hot liquid is poured over the bread prior to grilling (broiling).
Cheese On Toast and Welsh Rarebit are really two different dishes that share some of the same ingredients - both are equally delicious though!
How To Make Welsh Rarebit
Ingredients for Classic Welsh Rarebit
- 2 oz (50g) flour
- 2 oz (50g) butter or margarine
- 8 fl oz (200ml) beer (use ale NOT lager!)
- 8 oz (200g) grated hard cheese (e.g. Cheddar)
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 level teaspoons dry mustard
- Pepper (or use a little Paprika if you want to zazz things up!)
- 4 slices of bread toasted on one side only
- Melt the butter or margarine in a pan, add the flour a little at a time and mix well to make a roux. Cook for around 2 minutes, stirring all the time to prevent the roux from burning.
- Slowly add the beer while stirring constantly.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheese, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and pepper. Return the pan to the heat and stir the mixture constantly until all the cheese has melted.
- Pour the cheese mixture over the toasted bread and place under a hot grill (broiler) until the cheese starts to bubble and turn brown.
- Serve your Welsh Rarebit! It goes well with a crisp green salad and possibly some pickle or chutney, or just enjoy it on it's own and let the strong and rich flavours speak for themselves!
Rate this recipe!
Which Cheeses Can Be Used To Make Welsh Rarebit?
Welsh Rarebit needs a combination of strong flavours, so use mature, or extra mature versions of hard cheeses such as:
Which Beers Are Suitable For Making Welsh Rarebit?
Dark, strong flavoured beers such as brown ales or stouts (e.g. Newcastle Brown, Guinness etc) work best for Welsh Rarebit.
You can use Pale Ale if you want, but definitely do NOT use lager, as it is too fizzy and doesn't have a strong enough flavour!
Do You Like Welsh Rarebit?
Are you a fan of Welsh Rarebit? Take the poll below and tell the world what you think!
Do you like Welsh Rarebit?
How To Cook Welsh Rarebit
TV chef James Barber demonstrates how to prepare and cook Welsh Rarebit on the Canadian TV series The Urban Peasant.
Alcohol Free Welsh Rarebit Recipe
Video cook Titli Nahaan shows how to make a variation on Welsh Rarebit by using milk instead of beer - great for children or for anyone who wants to avoid alcohol!
Welsh Rarebit Variations
Welsh Rarebit with a difference!
Basic Welsh Rarebit with some interesting additions for the more adventurous!;
- Buck Rarebit - topped with a poached egg
- Irish Rarebit - topped with onions, vinegar, herbs, and gherkins
- Yorkshire Rarebit - topped with bacon and a poached egg
- American Rarebit - topped with whisked egg whites
- English Rarebit - the same as basic Welsh Rarebit but substitute red wine for beer!
- King Rarebit - topped with a fried egg
- Blushing Bunny - either topped with sliced tomato or using tomato soup or ketchup in the topping mixture
- Hot Brown - a variation originating from Kentucky which tops Welsh Rarebit with slices of hot bacon and turkey
Buck Rarebit Recipe
Chef Valentine Warner makes his version of Buck Rarebit - a variation on the classic Welsh Rarebit in which he uses ham as well as topping the dish with a fried duck egg! I'd say that's more of a King Rarebit rather than Buck Rarebit, but it looks and sounds delicious nevertheless.
More Welsh Rarebit Recipes
Links to some more Welsh Rarebit recipes guaranteed to tantalise your tastebuds:
- Welsh Rarebit Recipe by Welsh Holiday Cottages Food Guide
Welsh Rarebit Recipe by Welsh Holiday Cottages Food in Wales Guide
- Welsh Rarebit recipe
Try this tasty recipe for Welsh Rarebit courtesy of the Cheese society
- BBC Good Food - Recipes : Summer rarebit
A medley of goat's cheese, cider and grated beetroot takes traditional Welsh rarebit to a new dimension!
Enjoy A Taste Of Wales
These Welsh cookbooks include a variety of delicious traditional Welsh recipes to try out in your own home!
© 2009 LouiseKirkpatrick