Sunday, December 26, 2004

Welsh Rarebit

Twenty five or so years ago my good friend Beth Robinson introduced me to a cheese sauce called Welsh Rarebit. What a strange name for food.

As a kid, I remember seeing an episode of “Gomer Pyle-USMC” where Jim Neighbors visited a little restaurant to order “Welsh Rarebit” and as a result of his meal had some unpleasant side effect like nightmares or sleepwalking. Needless to say Welsh Rarebit was fairly low on my list of useful cuisines until Beth coaxed me into eating it in her home.

Using the Internet as my standard resource, last year I found a really good recipe for Welsh Rarebit sauce and having cooked it a dozen times or so, I think that I have it down pat. You can use the basic sauce over veggies like broccoli and cauliflower (cooked or raw) or just dip fancy water crackers in the sauce and munch away.

I use the Welsh Rarebit sauce as a topping for a brunch recipe similar to that which my friend Beth made up. The final format has been modified based on a variation of eggs benedict and the eggs Hussard dish served at Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans. My recipe costs about $30 less than a single plate at Brennan’s.

The Welsh Rarebit Sauce ingredients include:

4 tbsp semi-sweet unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups of grated extra sharp, aged cheddar cheese
1 tsp English mustard powder
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp cayenne pepper
2 egg yolks
½ cup of warm, flat cheep beer or ale

The balance of the meal:

2 halved English muffins, lightly toasted
1 can of asparagus spears
4 slices of Canadian bacon
4 eggs

The Welsh Rarebit recipe is an exact copy of the one found on this web site. All I did was modify the quantity to make enough for servings for two people. You can adjust the amount for the numbers you are trying to serve.

I made the sauce several times without the beer, but I’m here to tell you that the beer makes the sauce.

Redneck Tip: If you don’t keep beer around for drinking, go next door to your neighbors and borrow one or run out to the local “gas and grab” and pick up one “wino” size bottle of cheep beer and let it warm up to room temperature before you start cooking. You can also take a few big slugs out of the bottle while no one is looking (it’s a shame to waste perfectly good beer—I call it alcohol abuse) and claim that you spilled it if you don’t want to be caught drinking at 9:30 AM Christmas morning.

In a small skillet, toss your Canadian bacon slices in to brown on medium low heat.

In another small skillet, heat the canned asparagus spears on low heat.

Split two English muffins in half and toast lightly in your toaster.

Heat 3 quarts of water in a four quart boiler over medium heat to get ready to poach your eggs. If you have an egg “Poacher” ignore the rest of my “egg poaching” instructions because you obviously already know what you are doing and don’t need any “Redneck Tips.” Gosh Darn it…….

Now, as to the Welsh Rarebit sauce. This sauce absolutely needs a double boiler. I’ve been meaning to mention this before, but if you don’t have a “real” double boiler (I don’t), you can make one by putting a 1 or 2 quart boiler inside a 3 or 4 quart boiler full of water. The key is to not overheat or boil the sauce.

In your double boiler (homemade or otherwise,) melt the butter over medium low heat. While the butter is melting, grate your cheese.

Redneck Tip: Please buy your own good quality sharp cheddar and grate it yourself. No self respecting Redneck Cook would buy that crappy prepackaged, pre-grated stuff they call cheese. The taste difference is amazing…

Once the butter has melted, start adding the cheese to the boiler a little at a time and stirring the mixture. Keep adding the cheese until it is all in the pot and melted.

In your measuring cup, pour in the ½ cup of warm beer and add the two egg yolks. Stir everything together.

Now add the mustard, cayenne, Worcestershire, and the beer/egg mixture to the cheese butter mixture. Keep stirring….I said KEEP STIRRING!

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

By now your egg poaching water should be nearly boiling. Adjust the heat to keep it that way--simmering, not boiling. Poach your eggs while you keep stirring your sauce.

Redneck Tip: For those not versed in poaching eggs or those that do not have an “Egg Poacher,” here is what you do. Crack your eggs one at a time into a coffee cup. Introduce the egg into the simmering water by slowly lowering the egg in the cup into the water and gently tilting the cup to allow the egg to lower onto the bottom of the boiler. If the egg spreads out a little, you can actually push it back together by using a fork or spoon to “prod” it back into shape. Don’t worry if you get little wisps of egg white flying around the water. Just go slow and if the loose egg wisps build up strain them out of the water with a slotted spoon. Just don’t let the water boil or you’ll have a real mess on your hands (and in your pot.) I find that four to six minutes of cooking does the job. You can place the eggs on a saucer in the oven to keep them warm while you get all four of them done.

Once the eggs are poached, the Canadian bacon and the asparagus is warm, and your sauce has thickened, place the English muffin halves on a cookie sheet, top each with a slice of Canadian bacon, three or four spears of Asparagus, and one poached egg.

Place the whole shebang in the oven for ten to twelve minutes to warm through.

Remove everything from the oven, place two of each stack on pre-warmed plates, and spoon the Welsh Rarebit sauce generously over the top.

Now watch your taste buds explode with the flavor of the red pepper aftertaste in the sauce. Ummm...Ummm. Toss the dishes in the dishwasher and jump on the sofa for a late morning nap...I did!

Enjoy Y’all

The Redneck Gourmet


Anonymous said...

For a real red neck use -- Try this over french fries! YUM!

Jake said...

Jim "Neighbours" ? Give us a break, it's Nabors. Duh !