Saturday, November 9, 2013

No-Fail Welsh Rabbit (Gluten-free)

Welsh Rabbit is a cheese sauce poured over bread. Why it is called welsh rabbit, no one on Wikipedia seems to know. The contributors are definite on the fact that it is rabbit, not rarebit. Some writers heap scorn on using rarebit to describe the dish. There is, or used to be, some kind of a stereotype about melted cheese being irresistible to the Welsh. The writer repeats a 16th century joke  involving melted cheese which purports to explain why there are no Welshmen (or women) in heaven.
Welsh Rabbit was one of those magic foods I lusted after in my meat and two vegetables eating childhood. For some reason, it featured heavily in young people's books of the early 20th Century. Boys at boarding school induced their families to send them large wheels of cheese, which they used to make welsh rabbit during midnight feasts. I drooled over the descriptions of those midnight feasts, even though they usually involved some peculiar ingredient that took the place of the beer.
I can't remember the first time I ever had welsh rabbit, but I do remember making it in August, 1978, during the week I slept in my office in Centerville, a tiny town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I had gotten my first journalism job, and decided to save money by moving out of the boarding house in Easton, and crashing at the office. Luckily, the office was equipped with a kitchen and, I guess, a few pots and pans. Welsh rabbit is cheap, which might explain why there are no fewer than four rabbit-like recipes for cheese dishes in the Southern section of The New York Times Heritage Cookbook. Cheddar cheese seems like a New England product, but I guess none of the New England contributors thought to send in a recipe for what my mother's generation remembered as something their fathers used to make during the cook's night out.
I made the Welsh Rabbit on Thursday night after dog training class. We are trying to learn to control the puppy who is a lovely dog, but can be completely insane. The rabbit took all of five minutes, about half the time that Bob took to make the salad.  The only thing you need to be careful about is stirring in the eggs. Do not overcook or the eggs will scramble, the recipe says. Keep it on a low heat, 4 on a gas stove, or less, and stir it.

No-Fail Welsh Rabbit (Gluten Free)

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour ( I used gluten free flour. Rice flour works well too.)
1 cup stale beer
2 cups cubed sharp Cheddar Cheese
2 eggs well beaten
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce or to taste
salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
4 slices toast

1. Melt the butter and add the flour. Stir in the beer. When the mixture is thickened and smooth, add the cheese, stirring.
2. When the cheese is melted, add the eggs and cook just until the eggs thicken. Do not overcook or the eggs will scramble. Add the Worcestershire , salt and cayenne. Serve with or on toast. Makes four servings. 

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