Welsh Rarebit or Rabbit à la Heston

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Like ‘mock turtle soup’, which has seen neither hide nor hare (!) of a turtle, Welsh Rabbit (as it was probably once called) has never been anywhere near a bunny. Now, as Fogg and his companions pass Wales on their journey towards Liverpool with the mail, it seems the perfect cheesy comfort food for an uncomfortable few hours. It’s a sacred snack — but you can trust Heston Blumenthal to bring a little touch of magic to a classic.

Ingredients

  • 50g/2oz unsalted butter
  • 50g/2oz plain flour
  • 250ml/9fl oz Abbot or other strong ale
  • 250g/9oz strong Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tablespoon English mustard
  • 1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bottle of medium dry white wine
  • 10 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig of fresh tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • A bottle of good-quality white wine vinegar
  • A loaf of good sourdough bread
  • A sprinkle of fleurs de sel

Method

On a low heat, melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a roux. Heat the ale, but do not let it boil, and add it to the mix, stirring gently and constantly over a low heat.

Melt the cheese in a bowl placed over a pan of boiling water. When melted, pour into the mixture. Stir once to amalgamate, then remove from the heat.

Add the Worcestershire sauce, both mustards, the egg yolk, salt and pepper, then transfer to a food processor and blitz until the rarebit mixture has formed an emulsion. Transfer to a bowl, allow to cool, then refrigerate.

For the accompanying vinegar, put the wine into a stainless steel pan over the heat and bring to the boil. Add the garlic, herbs and peppercorns and boil rapidly for 3—4 minutes. Take off the heat and strain through a fine sieve. When the liquid has cooled down, add 25ml/1fl oz of white wine vinegar to every 100ml/4fl oz of the wine mixture and set aside.

Heat a chargrill, or preheat your oven to 225°C/425°F/ gas mark 7. Slice your sourdough about 2.5cm/1 inch thick — you will probably want 1 or 2 slices per person, depending on appetites. Brush both sides of each slice with melted butter, and chargrill or toast in the oven for 5 minutes.

Take your Welsh rarebit mixture out of the fridge and melt 40—50g per slice in a small pan. Put your sourdough slices on a baking tray and pour over the rarebit mixture. Cook in the oven for 4—5 minutes, until golden brown.

Sprinkle a few grains of fleurs de sel on top, and serve with the garlicky vinegar on the side, preferably café style in a vinegar shaker.

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