How To Make Welsh Rarebit (and Why You Should)

toast-in-panToast is having a moment. It is at once being celebrated, and…oddly…heavily debated. If you are interested in reading more about the toast hubbub happening in San Francisco, you should read this and this now. Truth be told, I am kind of surprised and saddened (and outraged) that toast is being made a scapegoat – a symbol of gentrification run amok. True, $3.50 for a hunk of whole grain, handmade bread toasted and slathered in cinnamon sugar, might seem pricey. But then again, cities like San Francisco and New York are pricey: $15 for a glass of sub-average wine and…even more ingratiating…$12 for a side of ordinary polenta are the norm. But I will save this lengthy debate for another post. Today, we celebrate bread. Today, we make Welsh Rarebit.

meltycheeseWelsh Rarebit or Welsh Rabbit (naming convention/history best described in this article) is essentially melted cheese on toast. Or, more precisely, melted cheese mixed with beer (and often Worcestershire sauce) on toast. It is the ultimate comfort pub food. It has been around for decades. It is delicious – a perfect winter treat. And it is due for a mini-Renaissance.


A few notes about Welsh Rarebit:

All good toast starts with good bread, so make sure to use a hearty whole-grain country bread and slice it thickly. Also, fact: Wonder Bread is not bread. By the by, homemade bread is fun to make.

I have made this recipe with a few different stouts, and- in a pinch -I have used just regular old Budweiser. So far, so good…but I recommend a good thick stout and look for a decent interplay between the stout and cheese. Yes, you should drink the leftover stout while enjoying the Welsh Rarebit. This is the whole point.

About cheese: you can use anything that melts decently, though I think a good Vermont cheddar is damn perfect here.

Yes, you should broil: A few Welsh Rarebit recipes are floating about which are essentially a cheese sauce drizzled over bread (in theory, sounds okay), but honestly…I am insisting you spread the cheese in a thick layer over the toasted bread then broil it. No exceptions.

Welsh Rarebit recipe adapted from Felicity Cloake.

1 teaspoon mustard powder
3 Tablespoons stout
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1-2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, to taste
1 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
6 ounces Vermont cheddar (sharp), grated (about 175 grams)
6 slices (depending on shape/size) of hearty thick country bread
2 egg yolks

Warm a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat on the stove. Turn on your oven’s broiler.

Mix the mustard powder with a little stout in the bottom of a small pan to make a paste, then stir in the rest of the stout and add the butter and about 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce. If you like Worcestershire, add the additional teaspoon. Heat gently until the butter has melted.

Add the black pepper and the cheese and stir to melt, but do not let the mixture boil. Once smooth, take off the heat and allow to cool until just slightly warm, being careful it doesn’t solidify. (I usually keep the cheese sauce over a super low flame -stirring frequently -while prepping the bread).

Place the bread in the pre-heated skillet and toast until dark on both sides. Beat the yolks into the warm cheese until smooth, and then spoon and spread on the toast. Remove the skillet from the stove and place directly under your oven’s broiler until bubbling and golden. Serve immediately.