Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Welsh Rarebit and Spread

Maybe it was the countless number of times I ate this as a child when my family went on family vacations to Colonial Williamsburg, but I adore Welsh Rarebit. The sharp cheddar melted into a silky texture with ale and a touch of Dijon is a fantastic flavor combination! And I always loved the ’sippets’, crunchy toasted brioche served beneath the hot cheese.

It wasn’t until a few years ago, when I made Welsh Rarebit and had some left over that I discovered what a great cold cheese spread it makes, too! Perfect to bring along to holiday parties-- as it is all done ahead.

1 pound good quality sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 rounded tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 large egg
1 bottle strong beer (not dark beer, but full bodied, like Heineken)
1 tablespoon butter
A dash or two of cayenne pepper
A dash or two of sweet paprika
½ teaspoon salt

1) Get a double boiler going, or if you don’t have one, a large sauce pot filled a few inches up with water and a large metal or Pyrex bowl to sit over top of the water without touching the water. Bring the water to a boil then reduce to a gentle simmer.

2) Toss the cheese with the corn starch, set aside. Whisk the egg and Dijon together and set aside. Pour the beer and butter into the bowl above the simmering water and allow to get hot and the butter to melt. Then add the cheese and stir constantly until melted.

3) Once the cheese is melted, add in the egg and Dijon, the cayenne and salt and stir constantly until thickened and silky.

Now, to serve as Welsh Rarebit, pour over thick slices of toast. Before pouring the rarebit over the toast, you can layer some nice ham, prosciutto or slices of tomato, then top with the cheese.

To make this into a spread, or just the leftovers, simply pour into a crock of some sort, cover with plastic wrap and stash in the refrigerator overnight (but up to two days). Sprinkle paprika or finely chopped chives on top just before you serve for a prettier presentation. Serve with good quality crackers.

Serves 4 for dinner or makes about 3-4 cups spread

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