Welsh Rarebit is a robust cheese sauce made with a nutty roux, beer, sharp cheddar, mustard, worcestershire and a pinch of cayenne. This cheesy goodness is drizzled over toasted bread and is traditional pub fare dating back to the 1700’s. If you don’t want beer, just substitute wine or apple cider, easy!
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What is Welsh Rarebit?
Good question. Being an American from across the pond, I am not the authority on Welsh Rarebit, a British comfort food with a nod to the Welsh for their love of all things cheese. So naturally I consulted my favorite resource of all things unknown to me, Wikipedia.
I am lacking in the British friend department so I turned to the internet after first reading about Welsh Rarebit. After reading a bunch of variations on Welsh Rarebit and watching countless YouTube videos, I went down a virtual ‘rarebit trail’ and I was ready to dive right in.
Welsh Rarebit is a savory cheese sauce that is served over toasted bread. If you ‘put an egg on it’, it is known as a Buck Rarebit or a Golden Buck. Rarebit sauce tastes cheesy with a sharp bite and a little heat.
Welsh Rarebit is not Welsh Rabbit.
The most common variation of Welsh Rarebit is made with a medium to dark beer, mustard, cayenne and sharp cheddar cheese. All of this goodness is added to a roux which is fat and flour cooked until golden over medium heat while whisking constantly.
Welsh Rarebit Variations
Other variations of Rarebit include adding the cheddar cheese and mustard to a béchamel sauce.
In addition to the roux, I added dark beer, sharp cheddar, dijon mustard (instead of dry mustard), black pepper, cayenne, nutmeg and Worcestershire sauce. There is no need to add an egg yolk in this classic English sauce, it’s already velvety from the roux that you made.
You can also make Welsh Rarebit with tomatoes, asparagus, leeks, bacon, ham, onion or spinach.
If you want to make Welsh Rarebit without beer you can substitute apple cider. I have made it with white wine once and it was delicious.
I think it would be fantastic to serve Welsh Rarebit with tomato soup. What do you think?
Why is it called Welsh Rarebit?
Well, that depends on who you ask. Rarebit seems to be a corruption of the word rabbit, first recorded in 1725. There is no other use of the word rarebit other than in this dish.
Legend has it that peasants weren’t allowed to hunt rabbit on crown-owned lands and had little access to rabbit. Rarebit may have been invented to substitute rabbit with another dish that looked the same.
Calling it Welsh is believed to be either a reference to the Welsh being perceived as foreign or inferior by the Brits or a nod to the Welsh’s love of cheese. There was a similar dish in South Wales that included bread and melted cheese.
Francis Grose first defined the term Welsh Rarebit in his book, A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue in 1785.
What IS certain, is that people agree to disagree. What is your take on Welsh Rarebit? Leave a comment and let me know. Also share some rarebit recipes if you have any, I would be delighted to hear how other people make theirs.
Rarebit cheese sauce is very flexible. You can make this British and Canadian by pouring it over fries for a Rarebit Poutine indulgence.
I hope you find this article useful and the following recipe devine:) If you LOVE cheese, I double dog dare you to make this easy recipe.
P.S. Did you know that September 3rd is National Welsh Rarebit Day? Yup, It’s official:) So if you make this dish, share on social media with #NationalWelshRarebitDay…
Welsh Rarebit Tips
- Rarebit can be stored in the fridge and will last up to one week. It re-heats well and you can enjoy this all week long. Don’t freeze rarebit, the cheese will make the sauce split when de-frosted. Basically, it will look gross.
- Because you can store this in the fridge, it is easy to make Welsh Rarebit for one person and have convenient leftovers for busy weeknights.
- Welsh Rarebit is traditionally served on toasted bread. I have used thin sliced sandwich bread and thick sliced baguette. It is really up to your personal preference on what type of bread to serve it on, just make sure to toast it first so that it will stand up to the cheese sauce and not get mushy. One of my favorites is to pour this amazing cheese sauce on toasted sourdough.
- Serve Rarebit with your favorite soup. I personally love this with tomato soup or if you want to keep your dinner entirely British may I suggest Saxe-Coburg soup?
- Add some extras to change it up and even make it more hearty as a one dish meal.
- Although originally designed for toast, Welsh Rarebit sauce is delicious over steamed broccoli and cauliflower too.
Step-by-step pictures on how to make Welsh Rarebit
Starting the roux with butter and flour.
Perfect golden color and nutty smell! Done:)
Now add your liquid, stir, add rest of ingredients…
Ready to pour! Bon Appetit:)
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