By Esther Boateng
Welsh Rabbit, also known as Rarebit, is a traditional British recipe dating back to the early 1900s or thereabouts. This is a simple cheese on toast recipe, and does not contain any meat, unless you choose to customize it.
Some people claim original Welsh Rabbit recipes use beer as a substitute for milk or cream. I have no idea whether this is true, but it certainly would have made my high school home economics classes more interesting if we had used alcohol. Maybe I’ll use beer one time and see if I can taste the difference.
Using cream instead of milk makes a difference to this dish. For a start, the cheese and the dry ingredients are easier to combine, and the taste is slightly richer. When I cook, I prefer to keep things simple. That’s why I chose not to heat the cheese, butter and flour in a saucepan, and then spread it on the bread. Some recipes call for this method but I find it’s quicker to spread the unheated mixture on the bread, preferably sourdough, and place it under the grill to watch the cheese bubble.
I tend to cook intuitively. If I feel that a recipe works well without an ingredient, then I leave it out, which is what I did with Worcestershire sauce. When I use a quality ingredient, I want to taste it. This time, I used a strong cheese from my local grocery, Smoked Seaside Cheddar. The wonderfully smoky taste was hugely satisfying. As much as I love Worcestershire sauce, I didn’t feel the need for it on this occasion.
As is often the case with straightforward meals such as this one, you can customize it as you see fit. For example, you might choose to make your own sourdough, if time permits. Check out “Getting Started with Sourdough Bread Part 1” for creating the starter & “Getting Started with Sourdough Bread Part 2” for how to make the loaf from Joe Cowan, and stack your bread with proteins like sardines, or healthy fats like avocado, to keep you satisfied until your evening meal. Alternatively, you can stick with the basic recipe. Sometimes the simple things in life bring us the greatest pleasure.
2 slices of sourdough bread or bread of your choice
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
½ cup of grated cheddar cheese
3-4 tbsp milk or cream
Slice of tomato (optional)
Pepper to taste
I prefer to lightly toast the bread before putting it under the grill. This gives the bottom side of the bread a slightly crispy base. You can spread butter on the bread prior to adding the cheese, but I prefer to leave it out.
In addition to tomato and radish, I also use a sprinkling of Wild Ramp Powder to garnish the dish.
Whoever coined the term ‘comfort food’ is a genius. I can’t think of a better way to describe this quick and easy family meal, and I have lost count of the number of times I have cooked it. It’s versatile, requires minimal preparation, which you can do in advance, and above all, it’s wonderfully satisfying and won’t have you reaching for pumpkin spice muffins an hour after dinner.