By a show of hands, how many people have ever even heard of Welsh Rarebit, let along know what it is? If you're raising your hand, you know more than I did before yesterday. Yesterday my sister and I noticed that today, September 3, is National Welsh Rarebit Day. And we had absolutely no idea what that meant! Upon seeing the name Welsh Rarebit I thought it would be something fancy. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is a simple, humble, fairly inexpensive dish.
Here is what we found when we looked it up on Wikipedia: "Welsh rarebit, Welsh rabbit, or more infrequently, rarebit is traditionally a savory sauce made from a mixture of cheese and various other ingredients and served hot over toasted bread. ... The first recorded use of the term Welsh rabbit was in 1725, but the origin of the term is unknown. 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. It may be a slur against the Welsh, since the dish contains no meat and so was considered inferior. Then again, because the word Welsh was at the time used by the English to describe anything inferior or foreign, it may allude to the dish's Continental European origin."
So after all that extensive research, we looked up a recipe. We found one on allrecipes.com that made it clear that Welsh Rarebit is simply a white sauce with cheese and a few seasonings. I thought - cool! I can definitely make that! So here it is - Welsh Rarebit!
4 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. dry mustard
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cups milk*
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
In a 2 quart saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Stir in and blend the flour, salt, mustard and pepper. Stir in the milk and Worcestershire sauce. Continue stirring the mixture for 10 minutes, or until thickened.
Stirring continuously, melt the cheese into the mixture and blend well. Serve immediately over warm toast.
*I found that, Idaho being excessively dry, I needed to add about 1/4 cup extra liquid, because my sauce was thickening far too much. So start with the amounts specified in the recipe, and then adjust if necessary.
Verdict: This was really yummy! There was something humble and "homespun" about it, and I always enjoy simple food. I'm glad I took the time to discover Welsh Rarebit, because we will be making this again.