Saturday, July 07, 2007

Beer (and cheese) for breakfast

Beer for breakfast? Why, yes!

Wheaton Rarebit

Welsh Rarebit is classic breakfast fare, mating beer, Cheddar cheese, and Worcestershire sauce. Its name has nothing to do with rabbit, and little to do with Wales.

Below is my recipe, inspired by Chef Bill Rothwell, who first created Chesapeake Rarebit for the menu at Sisson's Brewpub in Baltimore, Maryland, in 2001. As regional flair, he added a dollop of crabmeat, sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning.

1 lb. sharp artisinal Cheddar cheese, grated
6 oz pale ale
2 TBS, butter
1 TBS, flour
1 TBS, Worcestershire sauce (Contains anchovies. There are vegetarian options.)
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dry mustard powder
1/2 tsp. hot sauce
French bread, 1-inch slices
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten (optional)
1 spring onion, chopped (optional)
dollop lump crab meat (optional)
1/2 tsp. Old Bay (optional)

1. In a double boiler or medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour, whisk until smooth.

2. Add small handfuls of the cheese, then small portions of the beer. Mix together. Add the Worcestershire sauce, paprika, mustard, and Tabasco, and Old Bay. Stir constantly. Repeat until all the cheese and beer is added and blended to a smooth consistency. Stir in the SAME direction.

3. As an option, for a more breakfasty texture, remove a small portion, add to the beaten egg yolk, and blend well. Pour back into the cheese mixture and stir until the yolk is cooked.

4. Lightly toast both sides of the bread slices. Spoon some Rarebit over each slice. Broil for a minute or so until the top is bubbly and lightly browned. Remove. Serve immediately. Top with chopped spring onions.

For cheese, use an artisinal cheddar: British or American (such as Keen's, or Cabot or Grafton).

For beer, use a pale ale or bitter (one that is lightly to moderately hoppy). Avoid a very hoppy beer, as its bitterness can be unpleasantly augmented when cooked. Or you could use a dark beer for its toasted or chocolate notes; avoid one that is very roasty (or hoppy), for the same reason.


  • I originally posted this recipe in 2007. I've since edited it to repair broken links and to add minor editorial changes.
  • Chef Rothwell's Mussels Cuvée Renée: mussels cooked in gueuze-lambic: here.

  • For more from YFGF:

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