No explanation is given for this being a Rabbit rather than a Rarebit, a name with which I’m more familiar (Rabbit is the original spelling, so wikipedia tells me) but who cares when you’re being instructed on how to make extra-special cheese on toast?
Because that’s what it is, isn’t it? Cheese on toast, but for those moments when, without wishing to sweat too much over things, you need something a little more.
If cheese on toast evokes that kind of summery, after-school-snack type of feeling, then Welsh Rarebit evokes nothing so much as the pub. Or, rather, the pub of the imagination, with its dusty air, and faint smell of ale, mustard and sawdust (as opposed to the Wetherspoon’s-nightmare of a reality, which possibly smells rather more of ruptured vinegar sachets, Bisto and Jägermeister residue). But, in any case, through it’s beer, mustard and cheese, I am transported to a happy place which, for all I care, may never have existed in the first place.
In a bowl, as a couple of slices of bread toasted, I mixed a big handful of grated cheese (in our fridge, we have a constant supply of Grevé, which the children like, and melts well, though ideally I’d make this with something like Cheddar or maybe Gruyere), a generous teaspoon each of Worcestershire sauce and English mustard, a largish knob of butter and a tablespoon of beer (I used a mid-strength cloudy lager that happened to be in the fridge, but you could really use whatever you fancied drinking a bottle minus 15ml of with your lunch) before slathering the lot atop the freshly popped toast. After a couple of minutes under the grill, the topping was bubbling and beginning to brown, and I tucked in with the remainder of the beer, and a couple of leftovers from the fridge.
It’s not exactly what you’d serve up to your boss or a cherished aunt for dinner, but I feel it was no less enjoyable for that. Some things are best enjoyed alone, alongside almost a bottle of good beer, and that’s that.
Buy your own copy of Nigel Slater’s ‘Real Fast Food’ HERE.
NB – There may well be those who read this and immediately throw their hands up in horror that I’ve dared to call this travesty a Welsh Rabbit/Rarebit when it quite clearly bears no resemblance to the genuine article that they’ve been enjoying all their life, the recipe having been handed down across the generations. It seems, like many traditional foods, to be one of those things. Feel free to set me right but, at the end of the day, I do what the book says, and no questions asked.