is considerable debate about the origins of the name of
this fabulous cheese sauce. Some say it was
derived from a compliment that the sauce was a "rare
bit" of good food. The most reliable source, according
to Anita May Pearl et. al. in the book "Completely Cheese" 1990
Jonathan David Publishers, Inc., was that the term "Welsh
Rabbit" was originally used humorously to refer to a
dish of melted cheese, often with beer or ale, and served
on toast or crackers. Which ever is correct (if either) the
sauce is excellent and can be used with a variety of accompaniments,
from traditional toast points, over steamed broccoli or cauliflower,
as a topping for grilled vege-kabobs or any way you can imagine.
The following is a combination of several slightly different
* Butter 2 tbsp.
* Aged Cheddar, shredded 3 cups (8-10 oz.)
* Ale or beer 1/2 cup
* Egg yolks, beaten 2 each
* English Dry Mustard, ground 1 tsp.
* Cayenne pepper 1 tsp.
* Worcestershire sauce 1 tsp.
Start with all ingredients, except cheese, at room temperature. The ale can
be flat, it makes little difference.
|There are two schools of thought on how best
to proceed from here. One method suggests heating the butter
in a double boiler on medium to medium-low heat until melted.
Add shredded cheese slowly to the butter stirring in one
direction , until the cheese blends with the butter. Then
add the Mustard, Cayenne and Worcestershire and continue
to stir. Whisk the egg yolks and ale together and add in
small amounts to the cheese mixture. If you think the sauce
may too hot for the eggs, temper the egg mixture by adding
small amounts of hot cheese sauce and stirring to bring the
eggs up to temp slowly, avoiding scrambled eggs. Reduce heat
and continue stirring until sauce thickens. DO NOT BOIL-EVER!
The other method combines all ingredients except cheese and
bring up to simmer, then add cheese a little at a time and
stir until the cheese melts and sauce thickens. Yields over
two cups. Serves 4 as side dish, 6 to 8 as an appetizer.
Both methods work well and it is up to you which you try.
The most important things to remember is to start with aged
cheddar (at least one year), use double boiler style heating,
do not overheat (causes the sauce to break) and start with
ingredients at room temperature. You can adjust the flavor
to your taste by modifying the amount of Cayenne and Worcestershire.
Some methods call for flour to make a rue first. This way
works fine as well, but adds a texture I would rather not
have in my Rarebit. It is a matter of choice.