Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Diplomatic Welsh Rabbit.

Not to keep harping on a point frequently be-laboured on this blog, the title of this post should be ‘Diplomatic Welsh Rarebit’, but ‘Rabbit’ it is called today’s source - The Stag Cook book, Written for Men, by Men (New York, 1922.)  The editors of the book managed to get many prominent men of the time to provide recipes, and the choice for this day came from Maurice Francis Egan (1852-1924). He as a man of many skills and interests. He was a professor of English, a journalist, a writer of novels, poetry and non-fiction, and a literary critic. He was also a long-time unofficial US Catholic ambassador to various countries, and for a while he was the actual United States Ambassador to Denmark.

I have not read any of Maurice Egan’s novels, poetry, or other works, but I do like his turn of phrase sufficiently to be able to forgive him for using the wrong name for his dish.


I have no hesitation in saying that my recipe for Welsh Rabbit is the best yet invented. It has an international reputation. It has been eaten with gusto by Russians, Turks and some Englishmen who, strange to say, are distinguished gourmets. There have been Frenchmen who were too reserved, perhaps, in their praise of it, but then it must be remembered that Welsh rabbit is not sympathetic with the Gallic temperament. The French prefer timbales de fromage.

Put a large chafing dish over the hot water pan in which the water must be boiling. Never let the temperature of the heat change for a moment; therefore a big alcohol lamp is preferable. Grate ordinary cheese or cut it into the shape of dice. Drop in a lump of butter of the size of an English walnut. Pour into the pan a pint of near beer* or near Budweiser. Slightly heat it. In the old days musty ale was everything. To-day the symbol of beer is almost sufficient. Drop in a half teaspoonful of strong red pepper and then a tablespoonful of paprika, — paprika being merely a flavor and not a condiment. Keep the beer hot; then drop two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, a tablespoon of catsup and a half teaspoon of mustard. When this mixture boils, put in the cheese and stir in one direction until the mixture assumes the consistency of cream.

Use the thick plates sold in the department stores especially for Welsh Rabbit. Have them heated so that the cheese will sizzle when it touches them. Have ready a sufficient number of pieces of toasted bread, the crust carefully cut off. When the cheese is sufficiently plastic, dip a round of toast into it, let it remain for a second, transfer it to the hot plate and at once ladle the mixture in the pan over the toast with neatness and dispatch and you will have an unprecedented success, if no conversation is permitted until the rabbit is eaten. The sound of a human voice lowers its temperature. Coffee or tea must never be partaken of until the morsels are disposed of.
During the eating process, Budweiser is a substitute for the real thing — which was musty ale or the Dog's Head variety.

*‘Near beer’ was Prohibition beer, containing little or no alcohol (half percent or less by volume.) It was classified as a ‘cereal beverage’ and could not be labelled ‘beer.’

Quotation for the Day.

The gentle art of gastronomy is a friendly one. It hurdles the language barrier, makes friends among civilized people, and warms the heart.
Samuel V. Chamberlain


Rachel Laudan said...

I want to see the plates specially made for Welsh rarebit!

Dale said...

One of those "recipes" that makes me grind my teeth - what is the point about being specific with some of the measurements and not the main one? Where does he say how much cheese is served by these precisely measured condiment ingredients - a teaspoon, a cup, half a bucket of cheese?
And what is "ordinary" cheese where he comes from?
He's specific enough about the beer!

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Rachel, I do believe one of the Victorian-era cookery books has an illustration. I will try to find it and post a picture.

Anonymous said...

I like how he differentiates between beer and Budweiser. :-)

Elise Fleming/Alys K. said...

If you do an Internet search for "Welsh rarebit plates", you will see a number of modern examples.