‘Tis the season. All the stunning food blogs I follow are rolling out Guinness pies and chocolate-Guinness confections, green-tinted foods and whiskey cocktails galore. Yes, it’s St. Patrick’s Day next week.
St. Patrick’s Day is a curious holiday since, as a child, I never really celebrated anything and, as an adult I don’t really celebrate it either. It’s a holiday that had it’s heyday for me during that sweet period between age 18 and, say, 26. Traditional festivities do tend to centre around excessive alcohol consumption, after all. It helps if you a) are old enough to buy/order drinks b) are not so old that you have ‘real life responsibilities’ that would be seriously affected by an annual bender and c) if your hangovers still only last a couple hours (how cute.)
Sadly, not only am I pregnant this year and thus out of the drinking game, but I am also, what’s the term… old. Okay, not old. But older than 26, and that means that when I do overindulge, I’m usually left feeling green for more than just a morning after.
So, no whiskey for me this year. Or Guinness. In fact, cruising into my third trimester this week, I don’t really feel like doing much cooking either. Thankfully, the clever Irish have a solution for that, too.
I grew up calling this British Isles specialty ‘Welsh Rarebit’ but, given the occasion, I felt it only appropriate to give it an Irish spin. When I suggested to Colin that we celebrate by having rarebit, the conversation went something like this…
Finn: “Rarebit for dinner tonight. Good comfort food. Don’t feel like cooking.”
C: “Raaaa…. bit.”
Considering Colin’s family is super, duper ultra mega Canadian (or, at least, they are to me- most people I know, myself included, are first or second generation at best) and before that were some kind of Irish/Scottish/English British Isles mutts, I figured he would be familiar with rarebit, but I guess not. Well, this would be a fun adventure! Next stop, haggis!
When I did serve up with rarebit for dinner, I got an understandably confused look, “Oooh, cheesy toast! I thought we were having rabbit for dinner. Irish rabbit- I assume with some kind of beer or potatoes.”
“Yeah, it’s a funny thing that. Dutch chicken is really rabbit. Irish ra(re)bit is actually cheese toast. The world is a confusing place.” (that last comment could also have been directed at the TV, which was then turned on to one of the American GOP debates- zing!)
Despite the fact that he didn’t have delicious braised rabbit in front of him, I got no complaints over dinner. I mean, how could you complain about something so decadent, so simple. Beer, cheese, carbs, it’s all of my favourite things in one, but without the fuss of rolling pretzels or boiling macaroni (although I do love those combos as well…)
Essentially, you are making a beer cheese sauce (yum), and then making a form of cheese toast with it. Add some mustard, Worcestershire and beer to add a hit of umami and add depth of flavour… is your mouth watering yet? Since the bread is coated in this heavenly sauce, instead of covered with plain cheese, the sauce melts into the crags of the slice, making it almost French toast-like. Savoury. Cheesy. Beery. French toast. Finish with some fresh chives, because cheese and onions are the very best of friends.
Yes, it’s basically cheese toast. Very sexy cheese toast.
Oh, and if you did happen to marinate in alcohol the previous night… guess what will make you feel better the next morning? IRISH RAREBIT. Add a fried egg on top and, my friend, that is how the Irish do it.
|Irish Rarebit|| |
- 6-8 slices sourdough bread
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp hot English or Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup Guinness (or another stout or ale, although I would recommend something not too hoppy)
- 1 cup aged cheddar cheese
- 1 small bunch chives, chopped
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir. Cook for 1-2 minutes, creating a nice roux. Add Worcestershire sauce and mustard and mix. Add beer and stir until smooth. Add cheese and cook, stirring constantly, until all the cheese is fully melted. The cheese sauce should be fairly thick.
- Set your oven to broil. Place sliced bread on to an ungreased baking sheet. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until lightly toasted on the top. Remove from oven. Spoon cheese mixture on to each slice, spreading evenly to the edges. Return the bread to the oven and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, until the cheese is lightly browned and bubbly.
- Remove from oven and serve with a generous sprinkle of fresh chives.