This dish was originally known as Welsh rabbit, for reasons that aren’t exactly clear but that most agree were intended to imply rudeness to the Welsh. During the late 18th century, derogatory terms such as rabbit became frowned upon in polite company and the name evolved into rarebit, meaning a choice morsel. Today, rarebit has come to mean tasty morsels of bread covered in a mustardy cheese sauce. It is often made with larger pieces of bread, but here we use toasted baguette slices, making this an ideal passed hors d’oeuvre at your next cocktail party. Read more about Welsh rarebit.
Game plan: We found it was easier to spread the cheese sauce after it had cooled completely, so if you have time, make the sauce up to 4 days ahead, cover, and refrigerate for easier spreading.
For a slacker solution, don’t toast the baguette slices before you top them with cheese sauce.
- Yields: 20 servings as an hors d’oeuvre
- Difficulty: Medium
- Total: 15 mins
- Active: 10 mins
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 8 ounces aged farmhouse cheddar, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup porter or stout beer, such as Guinness
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard powder, such as Colman’s
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 sweet baguette, cut into 1/4-inch slices and toasted
- Combine butter and flour in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until toasted and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add cheese, beer, Worcestershire, mustard, and paprika and cook, stirring constantly, until cheese is melted and smooth, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. (If you’re making the cheese sauce ahead of time, transfer the mixture to a heatproof container and let it cool to room temperature. Refrigerate in a covered container for up to 4 days.)
- When ready to finish, heat the broiler to high and arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, arrange the toasted baguette slices on the baking sheet, and spread 2 teaspoons of the cheese mixture on each slice.
- Place under the broiler and cook, watching carefully, until the cheese mixture is bubbling and browned, about 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.
Beverage pairing: Brasserie Dupont Foret Organic Saison Ale, Belgium. A dry white wine would be nice with these bites, but they’re perfect for a beer since there’s beer in the sauce. This organic Belgian ale is alive with the complex flavors of a flowering summer meadow, and its combination of brightness and richness makes it a lusty companion for the rarebit.