Things on toast, that’s what you need on a wet, windy Monday. Things on toast that require very little work and no shopping whatsoever. A rarebit, or rabbit as some people call it, is the perfect antidote to effort as well as, conversely, the ideal base for a bit of faffing and tweaking, if you feel like dressing it up. Ultimately, it is cheese on toast, fancied up with mustard, beer and Worcestershire sauce but the permutations are endless: you can make it Welsh (the original, I believe), Irish (with oysters and stout), Buck (with a poached egg on top) or Dutch (which I just invented: use the sauce instead of a slice of cheese on an uitsmijter; I doubt you’ll regret it).
It is January-friendly because you can use any old cheese that’s loafing around your fridge and any old bread that needs toasting (though ones with some heart and soul will improve it massively), child-friendly if you chop out the beer (though then add more milk) and store-cupboard-friendly because, if you don’t add a whole egg or yolk, as some recipes suggest, the sauce will keep for days in the fridge. If you haven’t got a grill you could probably finish it off in the oven though it might take a little longer.
I’ve had it for two days in a row, once for lunch on its own, once for dinner with a guilt-offsetting salad. As I type this I’m wondering if it’s lazy of me to make it again…
For two portions (which means four slices of toast to me)
Cupboard (still working on the January store-cupboard basis)
50ml milk (you may need a little more)
25ml beer, ale or stout, something with some balls, like one of these, not some namby-pamby lager; again you may need a little more
75g cheese (as per the beer, something with tang like good Cheddar or Lancashire)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices of good bread (I shan’t repeat the non-namby-pamby message again…)
1. If you’re making the rarebit immediately, turn your grill or oven on.
2. Put the milk and beer into a small saucepan and warm gently.
3. Make a white sauce: put the butter in another small saucepan over a low heat and, when it has melted, stir in the flour. Mix together to form a paste, cook the paste for a few minutes then gradually stir/whisk in the milk and beer. Add a little more milk or beer if it seems too thick/un-sauce-like.
4. When you have a smooth mixture, grate in the cheese then add the Worcestershire sauce, grainy mustard and season to taste.
5. Toast the bread on both sides then put it on a grill pan or baking sheet (foil-lined if you don’t like cleaning burnt cheese), pour the sauce over the top of the toast and grill/bake until bubbling.