This dish is most commonly called either “Welsh rarebit” or “Welsh rabbit.” “Rabbit” is the original name, though no one knows the origin of the term. Some say it was originally derogatory, suggesting that if a Welshman went out to hunt rabbit, he would end up eating cheese for dinner. The dish is currently experiencing a revival, and modern authors and cooks prefer to use the corruption “rarebit,” as it avoids the obvious confusion with the hopping mammal.
At its heart, rabbit is hot cheese on toast. The best versions also include beer. I borrowed a technique from Fergus Henderson’s book The Whole Beast. He makes a roux, then whisks his beer into it, creating what is essentially a beer velouté. The cheese is then melted into this sauce.
I made a Scots version using Pumphouse Scotch Ale.
A Scots Rabbit – hot cheese on toast
- one tablespoon butter
- one tablespoon white flour
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- one cup Pumphouse Scotch Ale
- one pound cheddar, grated
- Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour, and cook until starting to colour.
- Whisk in the beer and bring to a simmer. Add the cheese. Stir the mixture until the cheese is thoroughly melted and a uniform sauce forms. Pour into a shallow dish and allow to set. This can be done the day before the meal.
- To serve, spread onto pieces of toast and broil until the cheese browns.
The rabbit goes very well with a glass of the beer you used to prepare it. Actually it goes well with alcohol of any kind.