- 1/4 lb of cheddar cheese
- 1 tbs butter
- 2 tbs flour
- 1/4 – 1/2 tbs dry mustard
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 cup milk, beer or Pinot Noir depending on which version you wish to make
- Worcestershire (some versions)
- Crusty bread
Old World Grilled Cheese
The Welsh Rarebit is a dish from the 1700s, and is considered by some to be the precursor to the grilled cheese sandwich. Instead of melting cheese between two slices of bread you make a fondu like cheese sauce, pour it open face on a single piece of toast, then broil it.
Different Versions of the Rarebit
In the book “1000 Foods to Eat Before You Die” Mimi Shearaton suggests looking up the article “How to Cook Perfect Welsh Rarebit” in The Guardian. From the article and a search of various recipes online it’s apparent that there isn’t any single way to make this dish, with ingredients varying by regions. The Irish like adding Guinness, the English ale and Worcestershire, and others suggest adding milk. We had Welsh, Irish, English and Oregon cheddars from our recent cheddar tasting, so we decided to get crazy and make four different versions, including creating our own Oregon Rarebit.
Making the Welsh Rarebit is very simple. In a saucepan on low heat, whisk butter, flour, egg yolk and the liquid you choose until fully melted and mixed. Slowly add your cheese, and continue to whisk (about 5 minutes) until it becomes a paste like consistency.
Toast bread on one side. This was accomplished by putting the slices on a large cookie sheet and putting them under the broiler. We used a nice thick crusty rye bread. On the non-toasted side pour the cheese sauce, and broil the cheese bread until it bubbles and browns. Take it out and serve. Your bread is both soft and crunchy, with gooey cheese on top. What’s not to love?
We used Collier’s Powerful Welsh Cheddar and mixed in milk to make the Welsh version. Nicole had thought the Collier’s a bit too “powerful” but found when made into the Rarebit that it mellowed a bit and had a really nice flavor.
We used Ford Family Farmhouse Cheddar from England and mixed in milk and two tablespoons of Worcestershire. Once plated we also added more Worcestershire on top of the cheese. The Farmhouse Cheddar isn’t as sharp as the Welsh, and the Worcestershire gave it a nice tangy salty flavor. It reminded me of the cheese sauce that my mom used to put on our broccoli when I was growing up.
We used a Kerrygold Irish cheddar and mixed in Guinness instead of milk. The Guinness gives the cheese a dark brown color, and a nice stout aftertaste.
We had a Face Rock Creamery cheddar out of Bandon, Oregon, so we wanted to create a recipe that is uniquely Oregon. We decided to use a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir instead of the milk/beer. It gave the cheese a wonderful purple color, and the mix of sharp cheddar, pinot and rye bread was a heavenly combination.
Yes, I loved this dish. It’s melted cheese on half toasted bread, which gives you so many different textures and flavors. I’m really happy that we had a nice thick rye, although the rye bread definitely flavors the dish. If you want the cheese to stand on it’s own you might try something more plain. My favorite was the Welsh version we made, mostly because I love the Collier’s cheddar so much. I also really enjoyed the Oregon version, because of the pinot noir flavor.
Hello cheese coma, in the best way. This was such a fun and easy dish to make but for me had a feeling of being special. I devoured everything put in front of me during this tasting, even the cheeses that I wasn’t super fond of during the cheese sampling. I found that the sooner you can tuck into the rarebit the better, when it sat on the plate the wonderful toasted crunch fades due to being warm on the plate. My favorite was probably the first one we made, the Welsh…though I was really hungry during prep so that may have had something to do with it. The Irish version’s cheese sauce was thinner due to the Guinness, and while at first we thought it might be too thin, but I actually really enjoyed that the consistency allowed the bread to be completely enveloped.
Will Kids Like It?
Yes, if your kids like grilled cheese then they should like this, although if they don’t like sharp cheddar they might prefer a mild cheddar version. Elliott liked the English version the best, as that cheese is a little more smooth, but he didn’t care for Worcestershire. He said he liked the crunchy parts.
Miles continues to consume anything we give him, and demanded more of the cheesy warm bread.
Questions For You
- What do you think is the best version of the Welsh Rarebit?
- What do you think would be the best side dish to go with all this cheese and bread?
Leave your answers in the comments below.