Welsh Rabbit with Broiled Tomatoes, Colonial Tavern Style

Sunday June 13, 2010

Welsh rabbit, or rarebit, has no bunny rabbit in it.  Rabbit is an old name for Old English Cheddar cheese, produced near the Welsh border, that was melted and poured over toast, and well, the name just stuck.  It is a traditional, stick-to-the-ribs British dish and is called caws pobi in Wales.  I loved this as a kid (use milk instead of the beer for the young diners) for lunch or dinner over toast points.  When topped with a poached egg, it is called a Golden Buck.  This recipe comes from Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, where it is winter tavern fare with mugs of cold ale. The dry mustard is a must and cayenne can be substituted for the Tabasco.


Cooker: Medium Round

Machine Setting and Cook Time: High Heat: 30 minutes, then Low Heat: 1 1/2 hours

Serves 4


  • 1 cup beer, divided
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 1 pound medium or sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Dash Tabasco sauce
  • Dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Coleman’s dry mustard
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 4 to 6 thick slices fresh tomato
  • 8 to 12  slices French bread, toasted, crusts trimmed
  • Hungarian ground paprika, for sprinkling


Pour the beer (reserving 2 tablespoons in a small bowl) and butter into the cooker and turn to HIGH, uncovered, for about 30 minutes to evaporate some of the alcohol and melt the butter.  When the beer is hot, add the cheese by handfuls, Tabasco, and Worcestershire sauce.  Reduce the heat to LOW and cover.  Cook until the cheese is melted, about 1 hour.  Moisten the mustard with the reserved beer and stir to make a paste; add the beaten egg.  Add to the melted cheese, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Cover and cook another 30 minutes.

Place the tomato slices on the rack of a broiler pan, and broil for 1 minute, or until lightly browned on one side.

To serve, place the toast slices on the bottom of an oven­proof gratin dish or in individual gratin dishes. Pour the cheese over the toast (plain or buttered), sprinkle with paprika, and then top with the tomato slices. Place under the broiler and broil until the cheese is bubbly and brown. Serve immediately.

Buck Rabbit (aka Golden Buck)

This is a variation of the above recipe. Cook as before but place a lightly poached egg on top of each slice of Welsh rabbit–as you cut into it, the yolk runs over the cheese mixture to give a rich golden orange color and a wonderful combination of flavors and textures.

English Rarebit

This is a more elaborate version of the traditional Welsh dish. Although the cheese mixture is prepared and cooked in the same way, the toast is soaked in red wine before the addition of cheese. This dish is hundreds of years old.

Serving Suggestions

Welsh Rabbit is good on its own. Served with salad, it becomes an acceptable light lunch or supper dish. With a poached egg on top it becomes a little more substantial, but when served with cold ham and baked beans it becomes a meal on its own!

If you are spending a day outdoors in cold weather, Welsh or Buck Rabbit makes a yummy, satisfying breakfast. Serve it as part of a cooked breakfast with crispy bacon and grilled tomatoes and a mug of hot tea or coffee. It also goes particularly well with smoked salmon or pan-fried trout. Welsh Rarebit with tomato soup is a winner. Try making your Welsh rabbit with different cheddar cheeses, add some finely chopped onion or chives if you fancy, sprinkling the top with minced bacon, or a sprinkling of fresh sage or basil.

Adapted from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook, by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann. (c) 2005, used by permission from the Harvard Common Press.

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