Welsh Rabbit/Rarebit

What's it to you: Welsh rabbit or Welsh rarebit? I grew up with rarebit, probably because my sister and I wouldn't have touched rabbit, even if we were shown that there wasn't any rabbit in the rarebit. "Rarebit" also looks like the third person future of rare, a nonexistent Latin verb. "I will shout 'hooray!'" And this dish definitely deserves huzzahs.

Here's a version from an old Joy of Cooking.

Welsh Rarebits

From Joy of Cooking (1975), p. 253

1 tablespoon butter

1 1/2 cups diced cheddar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

dash of cayenne

1/2 cup cream

1 egg yolk

Melt the butter in the top of a double boiler. Stir in and melt the cheese. Add the seasonings, and then stir in the cream slowly. When the mixture is hot, remove the pan from the heat and beat in the egg yolk. Serve at once over toast or English muffins.

That's very "traditional" - its the sort of thing that Stouffer's used to make (you didn't think that my mother made it from scratch do you?). There are versions that call for beer (including the one below). Tomato slices are a nice idea, if you've got perfect beefsteak tomatoes on hand, slice them very thin, and dry them for a bit with salt and paper toweling. My favorite version, though, is a fairly recent invention, I take it. It comes from a dandy book of recipes for two that Gourmet published back in the Nineties, In Short Order (Condé Nast/Random House, 1993).

Welsh Rabbit with Canadian Bacon and Scallion

From In Short Order (1993), p. 122

1 1/2 cups coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar

2 tablespoons beer or medium-dry Sherry

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

Pinch of Cayenne

2 slices of Canadian bacon

1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter

1 English muffin, halved, toasted, and lightly buttered

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped scallion

Turn on the broiler.

In a bowl, toss together the cheese, the beer, the Worcestershire sauce, the mustard, the cayenne, and salt and pepper.

In a small skillet, sauté the bacon in the butter over moderately high heat until the edges are crisp.

Arrange the muffins in a gratin dish just large enough to hold them. Top each half with a slice of bacon, half the cheese mixture, and half of the chopped scallion. Run the dish under the broiler for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.

Ham may be substituted for the Canadian bacon, which, if you're following the recipe, makes the use of steak knives advisable.

On the same and facing pages there are recipes for Fried Feta with Oregano Vinaigrette, Fried Mozzarella with Sun-Dreid Tomato Vinaigrette and Basil, Saga Blue Soufflés with Port Sauce, and Grilled Cheddar, Pear, and Chutney Sandwiches. I've made the soufflés many times. (March 2007)

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