Welsh rarebit, Welsh rabbit, or infrequently rarebit, is a
savoury sauce made from melted cheese and various other ingredients and served
hot over toasted bread.
Rarebit is typically made with Cheddar cheese, in
contrast to the Continental European
fondue which classically depends on Swiss
cheeses, and of which Welsh rarebit may be considered a local variant.
Various recipes for Welsh rarebit include the addition of ale, mustard, ground
cayenne pepper or ground paprika and Worcestershire sauce. The
sauce may also be made by blending cheese and mustard into a
sauce or Mornay sauce.
Acknowledging that there is more than one way to make a rarebit, some cookbooks
have included two recipes: the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book of 1896 provides
one béchamel-based recipe and another with beer, Le Guide Culinaire of 1907
has one with ale and one without, and the Constance Spry Cookery Book of 1956
has one with flour and one without.
The name of the dish originate from 18th century Great Britain,
but the origin of the term is unknown. It may be an ironic name coined in the
days when the Welsh were notoriously poor: only better-off people could afford
butcher's meat, and while in England rabbit was the poor man's meat, in Wales
the poor man's meat was cheese.
The term Welsh rarebit was evidently a later
corruption of Welsh rabbit. The word rarebit has no other use than in
Welsh rabbit and "rarebit" alone has come to be used in place of the