This post was sponsored by Visit Wales.
A Welsh girl and her rabbit: a recipe for Welsh Rarebit
My grandfather said that his Welsh forebears were horse thieves, which is just about all I know about that branch of the family. I have no reason to doubt his story, except the twinkle in his eye when he told it.
So when the Welsh tourism board asked me to develop a Welsh Rarebit recipe for National Welsh Rarebit Day (yes, of course there is a National Welsh Rarebit Day!) on September 3rd, I thought I could do a little investigation into my culture and melt some cheese in honor of my Welsh heritage.
Who are the Welsh, anyway?
The Welsh people are descended from at least two distinct tribes – one Celtic tribe from the north known as the Ordovices, and the Silures who may have come from Spain in the south. They were invaded by Romans, Germans, and British over the centuries, but maintained a distinct Welsh language and culture.
While some foods named for places are not really from those places – Bolognese sauce comes to mind – Welsh Rarebit really did originate in Wales, but it began as Welsh Rabbit.
So what is Welsh Rabbit?
It’s not rabbit at all – never was. Welsh Rabbit is a dish of cheese melted with mustard and beer and then poured over toast. Some say that Welsh hunters were not allowed to eat the rabbit they killed for their English masters, so this cheese-on-toast dish served as a substitute.
And how did we get from Rabbit to Rarebit?
The term “rarebit” really had no meaning before it was used to describe this dish, and seems to have been someone’s attempt in the 18th century to correct the word “rabbit,” since, as we have established, the dish does not contain and never has contained rabbit. I think that person did not have a sense of humor.
In my recipe, I decided to use a New York Cheddar from Trader Joe’s, to reflect my American heritage, and an Irish butter, to honor my Irish blood and the Celtic Ordovice tribes. I used Colman’s Mustard Powder, in honor of my possibly-equine-compromised Coleman great-great-grand-family, and a smoked paprika or pimentón from Spain for the Silures. I used Lord Sandy’s vegetarian Worcestershire sauce for my vegetarian daughter, and to reflect my current home near Washington, DC, I chose a Black Peppercorn Saison from DC’s 3 Stars Brewing for the ale.
Paige’s Welsh Rarebit Recipe
1T butter (I used Kerrygold salted Irish butter)
2 T flour
1 t mustard powder
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t smoked paprika
1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
A little more than a half pound of cheddar cheese, grated or thinly sliced
1/2 c Black Peppercorn Ale from 3 Stars Brewing or your favorite ale
8 slices good crusty wheat or sourdough bread, sliced and toasted.
Tomato slices (optional)
Melt the butter with the Worcestershire sauce over low heat* and stir in the flour and all the dry seasonings. Add the cheese and stir constantly to melt. When it is nearly melted, add the ale all at once. Stir to blend the ale and spices completely, then remove from the heat.
Pour the sauce over the toasted bread, and top each with a slice of tomato. This is optional, but tomatoes are in season and just about everything goes better with a fresh picked tomato, right?
*Most recipes call for using a double boiler, but I don’t have one, so I just used a very low heat to melt my rabbit.
Show off your best Welsh Rarebit Burger Recipe! And win!
You know what else would go great with cheese, bread, and tomato? A burger! Why not add a #WelshRarebitDay flair to your Labor Day cookout?
I’ll tell you why you SHOULD! In honor of National Welsh Rarebit Day, you could win a gift pack of Welsh cheeses in our photo competition. To enter, make a Welsh Rarebit Burger for your Labor Day weekend cookout; post a photo of it on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram. Be sure to include #WelshRarebitDay and tag both @VisitWales and @tweetthemap and post your photo by midnight, on Tuesday morning, September 6th. Visit Wales will select the reader with the most creative burger, and they will win a gift pack of gourmet Snowdonia Cheese Company Welsh cheeses!
Good luck and happy eating!
Pin the photo below so you can remember this recipe and get cheesy whenever you want to.