August 8, 2012

Comfort Foods: Rarebit not Rabbit

Comfort food....  the words make me think of cold nights and hot dinners, snuggling on the couch and watching the fire crackle. It's the warm feeling in the pit of your stomach that reminds you of home and family, of good times that are never forgotten.

Everyone's idea of comfort food is different. Perhaps it's your grandmother's famous soup, your mom's lasagna, or your dad's Saturday morning pancakes. What is your comfort food...  Is it mac-n-cheese? Chicken noodle soup? Ahem... anything chocolate??

As much as I love absolutely anything chocolate, my comfort food is something else. When I'm sick, grumpy, missing home or missing my husband, my go-to meal is... grilled cheese.

That's right. Grilled cheese. 

Who doesn't love buttery bread and ooey, gooey cheese? (If the answer is you, I'm not sure we can be friends anymore). While I still whip up a quick grilled cheese on occasion, I've discovered a more grown-up version that really hits the spot. 

Welsh Rarebit. Not rabbit. RAREbit.   

It's shocking, really, how many people think I boil bunnies for dinner when I mention this dish. I promise, I'm not cooking up cute, fluffy bunnies!

What I am cooking is ooey, gooey, cheesy heaven on a plate.

I don't know how the name for this dish came about, so I wouldn't ask me if I were you. I just go with the flow. I do know Rarebit is a traditional British dish. And I know it's scrumptious. 

That is the extent of my knowledge. I think it's enough. 

Would you like some ooey, gooey, cheesy heaven on a plate? Of course you do!! Here's how to get started: 

The ingredients are basic enough, staples which I usually have on hand. Cheese, bread, butter (not pictured, oops!), beer (that's the 'adult' part), whole milk, flour, dijon mustard, chives, and various spices. Oh, and an egg yolk, which also didn't make it into this picture. You're used to me forgetting stuff by now, right? 

Before we get cooking, you'll want to prep a few things. Start by frying several slices of bacon (about 4) in a skillet. Once cooked, crumble the bacon and set it aside. Then, chop one package of chives into 1/4 inch pieces. Set these aside as well. Both will be used for garnish later.   

Also, be on the lookout for bacon thieves! I can't escape them... usually the Hubs is snatching the bacon faster than I can cook it, but this week I had to contend with a new opponent. My buddy, and fellow blogger, Abby!

In spite of her bacon-theft tendencies, I love her much! You might remember Abby from her blog, in which I recently wrote a guest post for: The Conquering of Cardiac Hill

Ok, now let's get down to the nitty gritty! 

The foundation for this recipe is the bread. I go for French or Italian bread. Please don't use regular sandwich bread. Don't do something you'll regret! Regular sandwich bread is just not the same, you've got to trust me here. This cheese sauce needs a nice, sturdy bread to stand up to it. 

So, toast your bread. Been there, done that, I rambled a lot. I won't go into a long explanation here, but if you need it, you can check out this post where I explain it all: "Cooking" for One: Strawberry Balsamic Chicken Salad.

Set the bread aside and get working on your sauce. Quick tip: Have all your ingredients measured and ready to go. The sauce only takes a few minutes. You don't want to be running around, looking for the paprika, and then find out you burned your cheesy goodness, do you?

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over low heat. Not high. LOW. Once the butter has melted, whisk in 2 tablespoons of flour. This combines to make a little something called a roux. Keep whisking for 2 or 3 minutes, constantly. Don't let your roux burn!

From here, it's all downhill, nice and easy. Drizzle in 1/2 cup of whole milk (you can use heavy cream if you're looking for a richer sauce) and also a 1/2 cup of your favorite beer. For today, I used Blue Moon. No special reason, it just happened to be in my cabinet. Keep whisking as you add the liquids. We don't want any lumps!

Spices are next into the pot.

Here you have some leeway, and room to make substitutions if necessary. Start with 1/2 teaspoon of paprika. Then, add 1/4 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce. I like to use 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, but if you don't have it on hand (or just don't like it!), you can always add dry mustard instead.

A bit of spice is nice, right? I went for cayenne pepper, a few sprinkles or up to 1/4 teaspoon. Again, you can substitute here too. Tabasco works well. Add more if you like it spicy, less if it's not your thing. Or, leave it out altogether. Totally up to you.

Whisk all your spices in, until the sauce is smooth and well-blended.

Photo by: Abby Austin  
Here comes the ooey, gooey... slowly mix in 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese. Don't forget to grate it fresh! None of that junk in a bag for us. The secret here is to add only a little bit of cheese at a time, allowing one batch to melt before stirring in the next. You can handle that, right? I thought so. I have total confidence in you.

Let the cheese sauce cook for a few minutes, until melted and hot. Remove your pan from the heat, and add one final ingredient.

An egg yolk! No white, just the yolk. Don't know how to separate an egg yolk? Check out the tutorial here: How to Separate an Egg Yolk. OR, simply crack the egg into your hand (holding it over the sink or a bowl), and let the white slide through your fingers until you're left with nothing but the yolk. OR, buy an egg separator like this one: The Egg Yolky.

I'm rambling again. Oopsie.

So, where were we? Oh yeah... stir your egg yolk into the cheese sauce. Annnnnnnnnnnnnddddd, you're done!

Spoon the cheese sauce over your toasty bread, then top with the crumbled bacon and chives. Heck, add a dollop of sour cream if you want. Or leave it all off, and instead serve the sauce in a bowl with bread pieces for dipping. Be creative, try it your way!

Welsh Rarebit
I won't embarrass her by posting the picture evidence, but Abby and I both agree that Welsh Rarebit is something you lick your plate clean for!

What are your favorite comfort foods? Feel free to share in the comments below. Until then, happy cooking!

The Standard Form:

Welsh Rarebit (serves 4)


1 loaf of crusty bread (ex: French or Italian)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
½  cup whole milk
½ cup beer
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon paprika
A few dashes - ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ cups fresh grated cheddar cheese
1 egg yolk
Chopped green onion
Cooked and crumbled bacon


Slice your bread into thick pieces and toast. Set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over low heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk until combined. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes. Pour in the milk and beer, whisking constantly, and cook for an additional minute. Add the Dijon mustard, paprika, cayenne, and Worcestershire sauce. Whisk to combine.

Slowly add the cheese in a bit at a time, whisking after each addition. Cook a few minutes, whisking constantly, until the cheese mixture is melted hot. Remove from heat.

Stir the egg yolk into the sauce, whisking to combine.

Serve immediately over the toasted bread. Top with the chopped green onion and bacon. 


  1. Rarebit was totally lick-your-plate yummy! And eat seconds...and thirds. I'm not gonna lie. I could have had another plate, unbuckled my belt and enjoyed the heavy full feeling that follows Thanksgiving. This is comfort food grown up :) Thanks for the delicious meal, Allison!

    1. I always love having you over for lunch Abby! Seconds and thirds are the best compliment :)

  2. I have been wanting some welsh rarebit and was going to start looking for a recipe!!! I cannot to try it this week!!!!!!!

  3. Replies
    1. Let me know how it turns out! This is one of my favorite things to make when the Hubs is away. Oh, and on 'girl' days. And on Tuesdays. And Wednesdays. The occasional Thursday.... Can you tell I love it?!