I encourage every grilled cheese to consume a little beer. No, I’m not trying to say “I consumed too much beer and now wish for a grilled cheese.” Welsh rarebit, England’s classy, drunk version of griddled Kraft singles on white, is everything you ever wanted when planning to drink, while drinking, or after drinking too much. You see, it’s right there by your side. It’s covered in beer, like I was after my last Terminal 5 show.
Open-faced sandwiches are beautiful as it is, and the Welsh rarebit is no exception. It’s been turning heads since the 18th century for good reason. Grated aged cheddar or other sharp cheese is melted in a pot of simmering beer with a little flour, butter, Worcestershire sauce and a squirt of yellow mustard. The mixture is spread over thick slices of lightly toasted bread and broiled until bubbly. The tart, savory liquid seeps into the bread, the cheese crisps on top and the whole business is eaten with a knife and fork.
The acid in the beer, Worcestershire and mustard cut the richness of the cheese (and the English spare nothing when it comes to rich cheese), making for a perfectly balanced bite. The only thing that could possibly complement a dish so perfectly simple is an expertly pulled pint. This is convenient, as Welsh rarebit can often be had right at the bar. It’s Meatless Monday-friendly, just ask knight and cookbook author Paul McCartney, and perfect for those “nothing in the fridge” days that remind you that you’re neither knight nor cookbook author.
With this in mind, I’d like to begin a quest for other boozy sandwiches. Actual sandwiches with a previously established booze component, like Welsh rarebit. Not like the time I spilled some whiskey on a Philly cheesesteak and ate it anyway. Surprisingly good.
More English lunches: