It's said Wales didn't have any rabbits. They'd been hunted into extinction.
Others are quoted as saying that the Welsh name was used as a patronizing way to discount things. For example a Welsh pearl was one of poor quality. And Welsh Rabbit (where the Rarebit name stemmed) clearly lacks rabbit.
In truth, the origins of this dish is likely both. It probably represented a dish that really didn't have meat because none was available. But how did Rabbit become Rarebit? We don't know for sure, but it was probably a PC way of referring to Rabbit — more genteel, and all that.
The important thing is: have you had it? It was a favorite dish of mine from my childhood – pure comfort, through and through. Although full confession, it was actually Stouffer's that I ate. My mom would toast a couple pieces of bread, fry up some bacon, slice a tomato, and pour the microwaved package of Stouffer's Welsh Rarebit cheese all over it. The perfect panacea for whatever ailed me.
Rough day in Mr. Benkirk's Biology class in Junior High? It was Welsh Rarebit for dinner. Fell off my bike after trying to stand on the seat, and letting go of the handlebars? Yes, I stupidly tried it – and got Welsh Rarebit for dinner.
But it doesn't have to be for dinner. You can make this sauce from scratch (so easy), and serve it over slices of tomato on crostini for an appetizer at your next party.
Welsh Rarebit Crostini
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup ale
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 6 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar coarsely grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
- <span class="mceItemHidden" data-mce-bogus="1"><span></span>1 squirt Sriracha sauce to taste (or other hot sauce)</span>
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 bag of toasted baguette slices
- 6 Roma tomatoes
- Parsley finely chopped
- Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook until thickened, about 1 minute. Add the beer and milk in a stream, whisking, followed by the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, cheese, and hot sauce.
- Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, while whisking until a luscious, smooth sauce develops. whisking, about 2 - 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and immediately whisk in yolk.
- Slice the Roma tomatoes into 1/2" thick slices and arrange on the baguette toasts. Spoon a little Welsh Rarebit sauce over them. Finish with a dusting of parsley and paprika.