Monday, June 10, 2013

Chipped Beef Rarebit

Boy, just when I was getting what might be known as a following for this blog, I had to spend the first two weekends of May at my high school reunion, which actually helped boost readership, and then in Charleston, South Carolina with my cousins. Then for the remainder of May, I wasn't even in the US at all, having given it up for a trip to the White Cliffs of Albion, aka the soon-to-be disunited kingdom of Great Britain, Scotland and Wales.
So, sorry, readers, even though all you ever seem to read is about Rival Soup, Avocado Meatloaf, and Maple Frosting, I am grateful that anyone reads at all. I am back in the kitchen, wooden spoon in hand, ready to take on the challenges presented by the The New York Times Heritage Cookbook, the modern agricultural-industrial complex and the dietary guidelines established by my dear family. (No eggplant, rhubarb or shellfish, no how, no way.) Every so often, I threaten my husband with eggplant-rhubarb-crab pie or some such delicacy.)
So, Bob and I came back from London on Saturday evening, unable to even turn on the car radio, or at least tune it to an actual station that might give us the news. On the one hand, we didn't have to experience the kind of horrific headlines we heard in April when we arrived ten minutes after the Boston Marathon bombing. On the other hand, we like to listen to the news. On Monday, I sat down and made up a shopping list. We had eaten out Saturday night and Sunday, and clearly this couldn't go on.
I was back to finding things that could be eaten by two people in the course of a normal dinner, so hence, the Chipped Beef Rarebit. I would like to stop here and give you a couple of paragraphs from Wikipedia about why Rarebit is called Rarebit, the history of Rarebit, etc., but I am using Bob's new computer, which is equipped with some excrescence called Windows 8, another plot by those who invent computers to make them impossible for the rest of us to operate.  I cannot figure out how to open another screen to consult Wikipedia.
Now I am on my computer. Wikipedia posits that rarebit is a corruption of rabbit. Welsh rabbit may have been a slur against the Welsh, who were "notoriously poor," Wikipedia says. Poor people in England could not afford butcher's meat, so they ate rabbit. Poor people in Wales were too poor even to afford rabbits, or possibly the bullets to hunt them with, so a melted cheese dish was their rabbit.
This calls for jars of chipped beef. The last time I made something that called for chipped beef, which might have been a year or so ago, chipped beef still came in jars. Well, now, it comes in plastic packets and can be found in the processed meats section. Maybe the meat barons are preparing to reposition chipped beef from some poverty strickened food that the aged, like me, used to eat at school, to some sort of delicacy, like swiss dried beef. Stay tuned.
This is the kind of meal you might want to eat on a cold night, but it made a good dinner on a wet evening after I came back from attempting to ride the horse. He turned out to be lame so it was just an attempt rather than an actuality. Bob made dinner. There is nothing in this recipe that needs particular insight. When it says do not boil or the eggs may curdle, it means it, so watch the heat. That's about the only thing that needs to be emphasized.

Chipped Beef Rarebit

3 tablespoons butter
one packet chipped beef
1 teaspoon prepared mustard, preferably Dijon or Dusseldorf
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 cups Italian plum tomatoes
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Tabasco sauce to taste
3 cups grated sharp Cheddar Cheese
3 eggs well beaten
4 slices buttered toast

1. Heat the butter in a large saucepan. Pull the beef apart with the fingers and add beef to the butter. Cook, stirring, until meat frizzles. Add the mustard, Worcestershire, chili powder, tomatoes, pepper and Tabasco. Do not add salt. Simmer about thirty minutes to make a sauce.
2. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the cheese. When the cheese melts, add the eggs. Cook, stirring, just to the boiling point when the rarebit thickens. Do not boil or the eggs may curdle. Serve hot over toast. Makes four servings.

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