The best cheese recipes… Welsh Rarebit

Don’t let the name confuse you. We’re all familiar with the various parings of cheese and bread: cheese on toast, Croque Monsieur or the American grilled cheese sandwich – now meet their Welsh cousin: the Rarebit.

Welsh rarebit on ciabatta closeup

Welsh rarebit on ciabatta

This inspired and luxurious dish goes down a treat as a lovely supper, featuring an unctuous bechamel cheese sauce spread over thickly sliced crusty bread, with a keen dash of Worcester sauce.

So what are the components of the ideal Welsh Rarebit?

For cooking, the best method would be blasting it under a hot grill for an oozing, golden finish.

The ingredients are an all-important aspect, so don’t skimp on cheaply bought own brand cheese or simple sliced white bread.

The ideal bread would be a simple slice of wholemeal or a crusty ciabatta, its up to you, but I would say the ciabatta wins out on this occasion; the soft, porous structure absorbs the rich and gooey mixture quite magnificently. Alternatively I would go for a wholegrain/multi-seed loaf (malted) for more savoury depth.

The white sauce:

For the perfect bechamel, first melting the butter in a pan, letting it sizzle and brown slighty, then adding equal parts flour to make the ‘roux’ or paste. Important to note: before adding the milk make sure you ‘cook out’ the flour for a couple of minutes, stirring the roux gently, until the butter/flour combination resembles a sort of ‘golden honeycomb’ look. This is vital, as you don’t want the eventual bechamel to taste of uncooked flour.

Adding the milk slowly and incorporating it into the paste is fairly straightforward. Just don’t be tempted to add the milk all at once, otherwise you will have a clumpy sauce!

If you follow the steps below it should bind together really well.

After bringing it to a simmer with the milk, the mixture will gradually thicken before adding the cheese. A good quality Cheddar, Lancashire or Wensleydale will do. Generally, the higher the fat content, the better it will grill.

Finishing touches require a dollop of mustard; it really has to be Dijon in my view!

Any left over bechamel can also be used for lasagne, macaroni or casseroles. I hope you enjoy the recipe and remember that

Serves 1 – 2

Ingredients

  • 175g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 50ml full-fat milk
  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • A dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of cayenne or chilli powder
  • 2 slices thick crusty ciabatta

Directions

Preheat the grill to high and grill the bread for 2 minutes. Remove from under the grill and keep warm.

The first step is to make a cheese sauce (bechamel):

Heat the butter in a saucepan, stirring regularly, until melted and bubbling.

Melting butter

Add the flour and and cook for a further 2-3 minutes stirring continuously.

Welsh rarebit Making the roux (3)

The ‘honeycomb’ look

Once the roux mixture has come together add about 1/3 of the milk and stir.

Welsh rarebit white sauce (2)

Add the remaining milk, stir for a few minutes until it starts to blip, but do not boil.

Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. Whisk in the egg yolk, mustard and grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread the cheese sauce mixture onto the bread and grill for 2 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and golden-brown.

Welsh rarebit under the grill

Serve with a few drops of Worcester Sauce and sprinkle on the cayenne/chilli powder.

Welsh rarebit on two slices of crusty ciabatta

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