Did you know there’s such a day as National Welsh Rarebit Day? Well, there is; it’s September 3rd, and we’re about to celebrate it with a Welsh rarebit macaroni cheese. This Welsh rarebit macaroni cheese combines an old English snack and the ever-famous children’s macaroni and cheese dish. This version, however, includes British ale, making this the perfect no-fuss adult dinner party item.
What is Welsh Rarebit?
Welsh Rarebit, sometimes known as rabbit, is an old English recipe with a thick cheese sauce spread over bread and toasted until crisp and golden. Rarebit is the modern interpolation going back as far as the Victoriana era. Before it was known as Welsh rarebit, it was often called Welsh rabbit; however, the name and spelling changed because Welsh rabbit contained zero per cent rabbit.
The Welsh in the name may imply a dish of Welsh origins, but it’s actually from England. It’s often considered a vulgar pejorative, suggesting only someone as poor as a Welsh man would eat such a simple dish. These jocular food names, while some may consider them offensive, are found throughout old English cookery books. Welsh Rarebit also has other variations, which can be found by following the link to my delicious Welsh rarebit-loaded fries.
When I write these articles, I try to include as much information as possible to help readers understand what they’re cooking, as it’s important to me to understand a recipe I’m following. However, most of us have grown up with macaroni cheese. So, I’ll keep this section brief for those who may not know what macaroni cheese is.
Macaroni cheese is a dish popular throughout the English speaking world with disputed origins. However, what’s not questioned is its deliciousness. It typically consists of a cheese sauce combined with a small tubular pasta known as macaroni. However, any pasta can be used.
The sauce is known as a mornay sauce in classical French cooking. It consists of a roux base that mixes butter and flour. Typically, milk is slowly added and stirred until thick and smooth. Then, a copious amount of grated cheese is added and seasoned. Macaroni cheese is often baked or grilled with breadcrumbs, extra cheese, and herbs, a technique known as gratinate. Sometimes, however, it’s served straight from the pot, known as stovetop macaroni cheese.
Cheese Sauce for Welsh Rarebit Macaroni Cheese
To make the Welsh rarebit sauce, we need to make a cheese sauce base similar to that used in mac n cheese or a white sauce in lasagne. This base is known as bechamel and is one of the mother sauces in classical French cuisine. However, the milk will be replaced with a good English ale for this recipe.
To make the sauce, we first need to make a roux. A roux is a combination of melted butter and flour. The two ingredients combine to make a thick paste that takes on liquid and thickens a sauce. At first, the roux and the first batch of liquid will remain a smooth paste but will begin to turn into a smooth sauce with the addition of more ale and will resemble double cream. It’s essential to keep stirring and to add the liquid in batches. Refrain from adding more until the roux fully incorporates the last lot of beer.
Welsh Rarebit Macaroni Cheese
- 50 g Plain Flour
- 50 g Salted Butter.
- 500 ml Ale
- 1 Tsp. English Mustard
- 150 g Strong English Cheddar Grated + 50g Extra for topping
- 1 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- Salt To Taste
- Pinch Of Cayenne Pepper
- 400 g Macaroni Pasta
- 20 g Panko Breadcrumbs
- 10 g Fresh Parsley Chopped
- Preheat the oven to 200C or 180C, Fan 0r 400F, Gas 6.
- Bring a pan of salted water to a boil and cook the macaroni for 8-10 minutes until al dente. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
- While the pasta cooks, melt the butter over medium heat and stir in the flour. Cook for 1 minute to remove the taste of the flour.
- Slowly stir in the ale. Adding in stages helps avoid lumps in the final sauce by not adding too much liquid before the roux has combined with the ale.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt to taste.
- Stir the drained pasta through the sauce and then pour into an ovenproof dish. Top with the extra cheese and breadcrumbs.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese has melted and the breadcrumbs are crispy.
- Finish with the chopped parsley, and serve hot.