Welsh Rarebit – Childhood Memory
Welsh Rarebit may have it’s origins in the United Kingdom, but for me it was a comfort food eaten on Sunday nights or the evening we came home from a trip. And Ring Tum Ditty? Aaah… just as many memories. I’ll get to that later. But when I heard there is actually a National Welsh Rarebit Day (sure enough, it’s September 3rd every year), I was all about it!
Welsh Rarebit or Welsh Rabbit: The Debate is Now a Non-Debate
Welsh Rarebit or Welsh Rabbit? People love debating it. But I spent many of my years using Irma S. Rombauer’s The Joy of Cooking as a reference for all things culinary. I agree with her conclusions: “the subject is closed and we choose Rarebit since Rabbit is already taken.” Yep. It’s always been Rarebit in our family, so I’m sticking with tradition. (for those of you who loved Irma’s opinions scattered throughout earlier editions, read here about the controversy of removing her “culinary chatter,” specifically about Welsh Rarebit.)
Isn’t It Just Cheese Toast?
Some may ask, isn’t it just cheese toast? No, no, a thousand times no. Welsh Rarebit involves making a delicious cheese sauce – just the right consistency – flavored with ale or stout, Worcestershire and mustard. Hopefully English mustard. Poured over toast, it has a tangy bite to it and a marvelous smoothness. Some people (our family falls into this category) eat it right away, while others insist on passing the whole thing under the broiler until the top browns perfectly. That is the common way to serve it in British pubs and is indeed marvelous. For an in depth discussion of the ins and outs of this culinary star, complete with the different quirks of famous chefs, take a peek at this article. If you want the basics, read on.
Welsh Rarebit Techniques
If you stop at a Pub in England, Ireland, Wales or Scotland you just might find Welsh Rarebit or just Rarebit on the menu. (But NOT Ring Tum Ditty. Their loss for sure.) The cheese might be an English Cheshire, Lancashire, or Cheddar. The cheese varies as does the type of bread, though it needs to be a wholesome, grittier bread not a “wonder type bread,” lest it goes to mush under the cheese sauce. Some things, however, stay consistent. The bread is toasted on one side only, and then the cheese sauce is put on the untoasted side. There’s a reason for this. Pouring it on the untoasted side allows the cheese sauce to soak into the bread a bit. But having it toasted on the bottom, keeps it from becoming a soggy mess. Don’t skip the toasting. And don’t fall back on the American shortcut of using the toaster. Seriously, everyone has a broiler. Well, except college students. They get a free pass to use the toaster.
Variations that Will Soon Become Your Favorites
Welsh Rarebit holds its own as a perfect brunch or supper dish, or an indulgent midnight snack. But the variations are definitely news worthy as well. Not to mention party worthy. In my childhood home, Ring Tum Ditty was the common alternative. Similar to its brother Rarebit, Ring Tum Ditty (or Diddy – wow the debates keep raging) was a tomato based sauce on toast. Unlike Rarebit, this is super super simple. Depending on what was at hand, it might include tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, or even tomato soup. Preferably canned homemade soup but in a pinch, good old Campbell’s. Here’s an easy peasy recipe for those nights when you don’t want to order out but you don’t want to spend time in the kitchen. I call it “fast food at home.” Better than any boxed burger, for sure.
Buck Rarebit is a Welsh Rarebit with an egg on top. Our recipe adds spinach, making it a complete and scrumptious meal right there on your plate! And our Eggs Rarebit Benedict is just like it sounds. Stacked with Canadian bacon and a poached egg on top of an English muffin, the rarebit sauce replaces the Hollandaise. Your brunch or luncheon guests (can we call them bruncheon guests?) will be begging for your recipe. Or rather for OUR recipe which you can find here.
Most rarebits call for beer, ale, or stout. Nature’s Yoke has a Welsh Rarebit Family Style that uses Ginger ale for those who wish to avoid alcohol. The taste? Still spicy, smooth, and sharp. Ready to add Welsh Rarebit to your family’s regular menu? Or your next bruncheon? (I really like my new word.) At least give it a try for your next cooking date (yep those are a thing,) family activity, or just when you are craving a cheesy delight. You won’t regret it. Or you could simply go to Wales. Definitely a great idea.