Today is likely to be Wales’s last day in the world cup, so here’s a Welsh recipe to send them off. In Wales it is called caws pobi, meaning toasted cheese, and has apparently been a popular dish since the 1500s. The first record of the dish is in an English cookbook from the 1700s where it is referred to as Welsh Rarebit, a confusing alteration of the word rabbit.
It is often suggested that this dish was named pejoratively, as many things with “Welsh” attached to them were, but I don’t see a whole lot of purpose in digging up those old prejudices. At present, the dish is called Welsh rarebit or caws pobi, and it consists of a delicious beer and cheese sauce ladled over toasted bread and broiled until bubbly and brown. Topped with a fried egg it is called a buck rarebit and makes a fantastic breakfast.
For this recipe I used a Black Butte porter from the Deschutes Brewery, which is a great beer. But, if you can find it, I’d suggest Fuller’s London Porter. It is my all-time favorite porter, and you’re likely buying a six-pack to make this recipe, so you might as well have something you’ll really enjoy drinking afterward. Guinness or just about any other stout or porter will also do great, just stay away from anything too sweet.
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
½ tsp ground mustard
½ tsp onion powder
½ cup dark beer (porter or stout)
1 cup whole milk
½ tsp worcestershire sauce
1 cup grated mature English cheddar (around 4 oz.)
Chives to garnish (optional)
Fried eggs (optional)
Make a roux with the butter and flour over medium heat. Add your spices and stir until smooth. Cook until it has lost the smell of flour, but try to maintain a nice blonde color.
In a bowl mix your milk, beer, and Worcestershire sauce. When the roux is ready, add this mixture in a few additions and stir until smooth. If the sauce is lumpy, don’t worry, just continue to apply heat and stir, it will smooth out.
Once all of the liquid has been added and the sauce is smooth, stir in the cheese. At this point you can remove the sauce from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, ladle the sauce over toasted bread and place under the broiler until bubbly and browned. I use a small butane torch to achieve this effect in the bus. If you don’t have either of those, it’ll still be delicious–that step is mostly for appearance.
Garnish with chopped chives and/or top with a fried egg to make a buck rarebit.