I’ve been looking through my old Constance Spry cookery book and came across a subsection about Welsh Rabbit – which is what Constance calls ‘the English version of a fondue’ but for lots of us its fancy cheese on toast. She has the basic recipe, then Buck Rabbit, Quick Rabbit, Swiss Rabbit and Golden Buck. I have sometimes seen it written as rarebit, but if Constance says rabbit and Hannah Glasse before her, then surely rabbit it is.
This is what Constance says: Welsh rabbit is the English version of a fondue. The cheese used should be a dry ‘flavoury’ cheese. Ale replaces the kirsch, otherwise rabbit is made in the same way as fondue. Ideally it should be made on the table in a chafing-dish, hot toast and hot plates being provided and the rabbit poured bubbling on to them.
Her basic recipe is dry well-matured cheddar cheese, butter, brown ale, salt, pepper and cayenne, gently melted together and poured over toast. To make a Buck Rabbit slide a poached egg on top – I don’t really fancy that, melted cheese and egg? Not for me, thank you Constance. Quick Rabbit is made with boiling milk, the mixture poured onto toast which is then put under the grip to brown. Another variation is to spread anchovy paste on the toast first before pouring on the cheese – but again, I’m not sure I fancy that, cheese and fish? Not really, thank you
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 oz fresh white breadcrumbs
- 3 tbsp single cream
- 1 oz butter
- 3 oz grated gruyère cheese
- nutmeg. salt. pepper
- hot buttered toast
- mix together egg, breadcrumbs and cream
- melt the butter in a pan and add all the ingredients
- stir over a gentle heat until hot and creamy
- pour over toast which has been arranged on a serving dish
- serve at once
To make Golden Buck, take a pan over a low heat and add 1 oz butter, 4 oz cheddar cheese, ½gill brown ale, celery salt, paprika, ground black pepper; when the cheese has melted and everything is mixed add 2 beaten eggs, 1 tbsp cream, 4 tsp Worcestershire sauce. Stir the mixture until smooth and creamy and pour over the usual hot buttered toast.