Welsh rarebit: cheese-on-toast with a Welsh twist

Often likened to a glorified version of cheese on toast, there’s more to Welsh rarebit than meets the eye.

History

This wonderful Welsh dish is thought to date back as far as the 16th century, when many Welsh working class families – who couldn’t afford to eat rabbit – would tuck into Welsh ‘rabbit’ (or rarebit) instead.


However, as early as the 14th Century, a religious text saw St. Peter reference “caws pobi” (toasted cheese) when trying to encourage an untruly Welsh mob to disperse. Perhaps this was a subtle nod to Welsh rarebit, as it may have been known by a different name back then. 

What is rarebit?

So, what is Welsh rarebit exactly? Well, a traditional Welsh rarebit sees grated cheese (a strong Cheddar – Caerfilli and Hafod Cheddar both work well) mixed with beer, stout or ale, mustard and a splash of Worcestershire sauce, spread thickly onto lightly toasted sliced bread and placed under a hot grill to bubble away until the cheese has fully melted and turned a beautiful bronze in colour. Some recipes also call for egg, which can make for a creamier texture and more noticeable golden finish.

Similarly, some people like to top their rarebit with an egg, transforming into a ‘buck rarebit’. 

When to eat rarebit

Welsh rarebit makes for a lovely light lunch and, if you served it with a side salad, it would make for a mouthwatering midweek meal too. It’s a delicious dish at anytime of the year, although it’s most commonly eaten on St. David’s Day, when the Welsh national patron saint is celebrated. Read more about traditional Welsh rarebit over on The Rare Welsh Bit blog.