Even though I've lived only about 30 miles away from Wisconsin for the past 9 years, I've rarely had occasion to go there. That all ended this past weekend when I spent 4 days there and realized I have been missing out! Wisconsin is a fine vacation destination. And food-wise, they have lots of CHEESE and BEER, which are 2 really wonderful things in my opinion.
I have been waiting for the perfect occasion to make Welsh Rarebit, and my recent affection for cheese and beer makes me think the time is finally right. Welsh Rarebit is simply a fancy name for an English style open-faced grilled cheese sandwich. But, in a traditional version of Welsh Rarebit the ingredients are important, so I sourced as many of the real deal as I could find.
First - rye bread. My favorite bakery Rustica was out of their rye bread tonight so I settled for some "Jewish Seeded Rye" from Lund's. It was covered in caraway seeds, which I thought were an awesome complement to the cheddar sauce.
Next - beer. The recipe I used called for porter. Other recipes call for Guinness. I went with an English Ale - Boddington's. As a bonus, it's a really great beer for drinking so the 4-pack of pint cans did not go to waste.
Finally - cheese. Real Welsh Rarebit calls for super sharp cheddar. I used a bright orange cheddar from Wisconsin that had aged for 4 years. If you're not a sharp cheddar lover, I recommend mixing some of this cheese with a milder cheese (like monterey jack or baby cheddar) because the sharpness really shines through in the finished sauce.
To make Welsh Rarebit, mix up your cheese sauce then let it set. Spread it onto toasted bread and broil until hot and bubbly and melty. If you don't like any or all of the main ingredients, switch them up! I'd like to try a variation of this sandwich with multigrain bread, local Surly beer, and a milder cheese.
I'm excited to use my leftover cheese sauce in many ways. It tastes great with the cauliflower and broccoli (maybe add some pasta for a fancy mac 'n cheese?). I also want to try the open faced sandwich again but add either sliced tomato, a poached egg (which would make it similar to a Croque Madame), or good quality canned tuna to make a fancy tuna melt.
Welsh Rarebit, adapted from Alton Brown
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup English Ale beer
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
hot sauce to taste
sliced rye bread
Melt butter and flour in saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly for about 2 minutes. Add mustard, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper and keep whisking. Add beer, cream, and shredded cheese, whisking after each addition to keep the sauce smooth. Add hot sauce.
Remove cheese sauce from heat and let it set (refrigerate or let sit at room temp to thicken up).
Toast or broil thick slices of rye bread on both sides. Add a thick layer of cheese sauce and broil for a few minutes until brown and bubbly. I recommend lining your baking sheet with tinfoil or parchment prior to broiling to make clean up much easier.
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