The recipe for this quintessential savoury, a traditional British end-of-dinner bite, comes from legendary British grocer Fortnum & Mason’s first cookbook.
Rarebit? Rabbit? Rarerabbit? The argument as to correct spelling and pronunciation burns eternal, but all that really matters is Cheddar cheese, mixed with mustard, Worcestershire sauce, a whole egg and a drop of beer. Fortnum’s use Guinness, although any stout or bitter will do fine. This is then slathered over good toast, grilled until bubbling and finished with half a grilled tomato and a shake of Worcestershire sauce. One customer is so enamored by the dish that whenever he flies in from Santa Barbara, California, he dumps his bags at the Stafford Hotel and rushes over the road for rarebit. Without even checking in. Done well, this dish inspires that sort of devotion.
- 4 slices of brown sugar or sourdough bread
- 2 tomatoes, cut in half
- Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
For the Rarebit Mix
- 4 teaspoons of Guinness
- 1 teaspoon English mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- A few drops of Tabasco sauce
- 1 egg
- 250g mature Cheddar cheese, grated
To make the rarebit mix, combine the Guinness, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and egg in a bowl. Add the grated cheese and mix well. Lightly toast the sourdough bread and spread the rarebit mixture on top. Place under a hot grill until golden brown, then transfer to an oven heated to 180 ̊ C/Gas Mark 4 and bake for 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the tomato halves under the hot grill until lightly browned. Serve each slice of rarebit sprinkled with sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper and accompanied by a tomato half.
Reprinted from “Fortnum & Mason The Cook Book” by Tom Parker Bowles. Published by Fourth Estate.