What is Welsh rarebit?
Welsh rarebit or Welsh rabbit is a toast recipe of Welsh origin. It consists of a slice of bread covered with a sauce made from a roux prepared with beer and garnished with cheddar, English mustard and Worcestershire sauce. These slices of bread are then toasted in an oven to obtain a hot and crisp result.
How to make Welsh rarebit?
The preparation of Welsh rarebit begins with the making of a roux, that is to say a mixture of flour and butter that is cooked together, this dough will later act as a binder to the sauce. A roux always incorporates a hot liquid, here beer. The preparation should be vigorously whipped to prevent clumping. Just like for a bechamel, you can then add cheese and here mustard, Worcestershire sauce and black pepper. Slices of bread are then buttered, placed in a baking dish and covered with the cheese and beer sauce. Everything is baked or placed under a grill for a few minutes until the slices are golden brown. The dish can be accompanied by a salad, for example.
What is the origin of Welsh rarebit?
The name of Welsh rarebit or Welsh rabbit dates from the eighteenth century and is native to Wales. Despite its name, this dish does not contain rabbit meat.
The first mention of this dish dates from 1725. If the exact origin of this dish is unknown, it is believed to have appeared in the south of Wales. The word Welsh could come from the Proto-Germanic Walhaz which meant stranger. According to English books of the eighteenth century, this dish is presented as a tavern dish. The confusion between the words “rarebit” and “rabbit” is undoubtedly due to an etymological alteration. There are other examples in the United Kingdom of ambiguous dishes, such as the mock turtle soup that does not contain turtles, or the Bombay duck, a dish made from dried fish and not duck.
According to some legends, the name of Welsh rabbit comes from the prohibition for peasants to hunt. As they lacked rabbit at their table, they would have prepared a dish of rabbit without rabbit.
Welsh rarebit eventually met some success in France thanks to famous chefs such as Auguste Escoffier or Louis Saulnier. You can regularly find it in breweries in the north of the country.
What are the other versions of Welsh rarebit?
Welsh rarebit can also be served in a hot pot just like French fondue. When served this way, the toast is dipped directly into the hot pot of sauce. Black pepper can be replaced with paprika or smoked paprika. You can also add cheese and mustard directly to the béchamel sauce.
Traditionally, Welsh rarebit was grilled with a white-hot iron instead of baking or grilling in an oven. Welsh rarebit is also very similar to the French croque-monsieur.
When you add an egg on the Welsh rabbit, it is called a buck rabbit or golden buck. With the addition of tomato sauce, this dish takes the name of blushing bunny. In the region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais in the north of France, this dish is simply called Welsh.
The cheese traditionally used in the Welsh rarebit is cheddar, that gives that orange hue to the dish but other cheeses can be used. The choice of beer is up to the person who prepares the Welsh rabbit. Blond and red beers can be used depending on the desired taste.
Finely chopped chives can be added to the top of the slices after grilling. Older versions of Welsh contain melted onions in the preparation. The taste of the onion goes well with that of the beer and the cheese sauce.
- ½ cup flour , sifted
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup beer (warm)
- 8 oz. cheddar , grated
- 2 tablespoons English mustard
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- Black pepper , freshly ground
- 8 large slices rustic bread (or whole grain bread)
In a small, non-stick saucepan, melt the butter and make a roux with the flour.
Cook for a few minutes while beating to prevent the roux from burning.
While whisking, stir in the hot beer gradually until you have a thick but smooth sauce.
Add the grated cheese and stir until melted, until you get a thick sauce.
Stir in the mustard and Worcestershire sauce and season with black pepper.
Lightly toast the bread on both sides and spread butter.
Place the bread slices in a large baking dish.
Pour the cheese mixture on each slice.
Bake under a moderately hot grill for a few minutes, until golden and bubbling.