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~Welsh Rarebit or Rabbit = the Original Cheese Toast~

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2d01e02970cSay cheese please -- lots and lots of hot and bubbling, oooey, gooey cheese please.  If those words got you salivating, try these on for size:  a savory cheese sauce made from sharp cheddar cheese, egg yolk, Worcestershire sauce, English mustard and beer slathered onto thick-slices of toasted bread and broiled until bubbly.  Here in America, when a cheesy craving hits us, we treat ourselves to an all-American grilled cheese sandwich.  The British have a different twist on it, and Welsh rarebit is referred to as the original cheese toast (or cheese on toast).

Welsh rarebit (pronounced rabbit) is a traditional British dish made by ladling a thickened, sometimes roux-based, cheese sauce over crustless, thick-sliced ever-so-slightly-toasted bread, then quickly broiling the two until the sauce is bubbling and barely-light-golden.  Basic rarebit sauce is made by melting a hard English cheese (like cheddar, gloucester, cheshire or lancashire) with cayenne pepper, English mustard, a splash of Worcestershire sauce, milk and beer.  Another, easier (cheaters) method, it to simply melt sliced cheese atop lightly-toasted bread that has been slathered with mixture of softened butter, mustard, Worcestershire and cayenne pepper. 

Welsh rabbit is the original name, and, the dish is Welsh in origin, dating back to the 1700's.  The Welsh, who are famous for their love of cheese, claim to be among the first to use cheese in various dishes and sauces.  In their food world, the original name, rabbit, was an affectionate way to say, "we prefer eating cheese to eating rabbit".  In their real world, Wales was an impoverished nation and many a Welshman couldn't afford even the cheapest meat.  Others claim the original name, after making its way into English kitchens, was meant to cast aspersions on the Welsh, who were allegedly not adept at catching rabbits -- and "rabbit" changed to "rarebit" spurred by the need for political correctness.  Still others claim the Welsh peasants, who weren't allowed to eat the rabbits caught during the hunts on the estates of the nobles, eating melted cheese and bread as a substitute, named the dish.  Culinary authorities, like Auguste Escoffier, say the spelling was changed from "rabbit" to "rarebit" merely to emphasize it not being a meat dish.

Say Cheese Please -- Try my recipe for Perfect Welsh Rarebit:

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2d01ceb970c"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022)


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