Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Welsh rabbit

with 3 comments

Or, as Mark Bittman writes, “Welsh rarebit,” which I think is missing the joke.  (See comments for more on the “rarebit” error, including H.W. Fowler’s succinct dictum.) At any rate, a wonderful late breakfast for New Year’s Day, although I like the tradition out here of chasing the hangover blues with spicy menudo (recipe at the link), for which supermarkets out here stock tripe at this time of year. Still haven’t found a good source of cow’s foot, though.

Welsh Rarebit [sic]

Yield 4 or more servings

Time About 20 minutes, plus cooling

Though the idea of eating savory food after a full meal makes sense only when evening stretches into night and, usually, when overindulgence in alcohol has taken place, rarebit is also good in the afternoon, and can be made in advance save for the final toasting. To get that just right, toast the bread on a baking sheet until each piece is evenly browned on top. Then turn the pieces over and toast them about half as much on the second side before adding the cheese.

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon mustard powder, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • 3/4 cup strong dark beer, like Guinness
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
  • 1 pound Cheddar, Double Gloucester or other English cheese (or other good semi-hard cheese, like Comté or Gruyère, or a mixture), grated
  • 4 to 8 pieces lightly toasted bread

1. Put butter in a saucepan over medium heat and, as it melts, stir in flour. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and very fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in mustard and cayenne, then whisk in beer and Worcestershire sauce.

2. When mixture is uniform, turn heat to low and stir in cheese, again stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and pour into a broad container to set (you can refrigerate for up to a day at this point).

3. Spread mixture thickly on toast and put under broiler until bubbly and edges of toast are crisp. Serve immediately.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 December 2008 at 10:05 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

3 Responses

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  1. But it IS spelled that way, honey… (and pronounced “rabbit”)

    the wife

    31 December 2008 at 3:04 pm

  2. Merriam-Webster, though, has the main entry as Welsh rabbit, with “rarebit” as an alternative. And I find this in Wikipedia:

    The first recorded use of the term Welsh rabbit was in 1725, but the origin of the term is unknown.[2] It may be an ironic name coined in the days when the Welsh were notoriously poor: only better-off people could afford butcher’s meat, and while in England rabbit was the poor man’s meat, in Wales the poor man’s meat was cheese.[11]

    It is also possible that the dish was attributed to Wales because the Welsh were considered particularly fond of cheese, as evidenced by Andrew Boorde in his Fyrst Boke of the Introduction of Knowledge (1542), when he wrote “I am a Welshman, I do love cause boby, good roasted cheese.”[12] In Boorde’s account, “cause boby” is the Welsh caws pobi, meaning “roasted cheese”. It is the earliest known reference to cheese being eaten cooked in the British Isles but whether it implies a recipe like Welsh rabbit is a matter of speculation.


    The term Welsh rarebit was evidently a later corruption of Welsh rabbit, being first recorded in 1785 by Francis Grose, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The entry in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage is “Welsh rabbit, Welsh rarebit” and states: “When Francis Grose defined Welsh rabbit in A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue in 1785, he mistakenly indicated that rabbit was a corruption of rarebit. It is not certain that this erroneous idea originated with Grose….”[13]

    In his 1926 edition of the Dictionary of Modern English Usage, the grammarian H. W. Fowler states a forthright view: “Welsh Rabbit is amusing and right. Welsh Rarebit is stupid and wrong.”[14]


    1 January 2009 at 10:15 am

  3. I think it is supposed to be a jocose term, e.g. Cape Cod Turkey (=cod).

    The Eldest

    1 January 2009 at 2:05 pm

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