Kevin Gillespie's Welsh Rarebit
"In Wales," says Chef Kevin Gillespie, "cheese is the poor man's meat. Welsh rarebit is simple tavern food—a thick cheese sauce mixed with draft beer and melted over rustic bread. It's cheap and it's good. And when done right, it's super flavorful and super rich. My mom and uncle liked it, so my grandmother used to make it for them. The Welsh make it with local, well-aged cheddar. Buy the best cheese that you can because it's the star of the dish. For the bread, the heartier the better. Whole-grain brown loaves work really well. You could even use one with nuts in it, like pecan-raisin bread. The sturdy bread forms a dense backdrop for the velvety melted cheese sauce. Not everything should have the same texture, which is part of what makes this dish fun to eat. It might look like an open-faced sandwich, but this is definitely knife-and-fork food." - Fire in my Belly: Real Cooking
- 4 thick slices rustic, dark-crusted whole wheat bread
- 4 tablespoons clarified butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups heavy cream
- ½ cup porter, stout, or other dark, slightly bitter beer
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup freshly grated Grafton or extra-sharp yellow cheddar cheese
- Heat the oven to 425˚F.
- Toaste] the bread on the oven rack until crispy on both sides, about 3 minutes. Leave the oven on.
- Whisk the clarified butter and flour in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until the flour dissolves, about 3 minutes. Keep whisking, then add the cream and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes, whisking nonstop. Whisk in the beer, mustard, Worcestershire, cayenne, and salt and cook for 10 minutes, stirring several times. You've got a lot of flavors that need time to fully develop, so give it the time it needs to get tasty.
- Pull the pan from the heat and let the sauce cool for about 5 minutes; cooling the sauce will help keep the cheese from separating when you add it to the sauce. Add the cheese and stir until you see the texture change completely from kind of a grainy mess to a smooth, silky sauce; that's when the cheese is completely melted. Press the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer, and discard any remaining solids.
- Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat, parchment paper, or nonstick aluminum foil. Or, just use some oven-to-table sizzle plates. Set the toasts on the pan and generously spoon the cheese sauce over each piece. Bake until brown and bubbly, about 4 minutes.
culture: the word on cheese http://culturecheesemag.com/