Before I dive into the recipe, I ought to mention that the original British dish was Welsh Rarebit.
You cannot sell food named after a specific place (Cornish pasties for example can’t be called this unless you are eating one in Cornwall) so in Yorkshire, you will see Yorkshire Rarebit on the menu, not Welsh Rarebit. Of course, when you are eating it in your own home, I guess it doesn’t matter what you call it!
There are different rarebits and whether it is Welsh or Yorkshire Rarebit, it might look like cheese on toast, but it is NOT cheese on toast.
The Rarebit is silkier, combining cheese with mustard and milk or even cream. The mixture is then added to toast. Probably the word “rarebit” was a corruption of “rabbit.” It must have been a little joke among poor rural folk who hadn’t caught or been able to afford to buy a rabbit or any meat that day. Instead they created a tasty dish containing bread and cheese as the staples. So you can actually call it Yorkshire Rabbit or Welsh Rabbit but it’s still safe for vegetarians to eat!
Accounts vary as to what qualifies calling a Rarebit a Yorkshire one. Some say it has to be topped with egg and bacon. Some say it has to have beer in. By contrast, there is an olde English Georgian recipe for rarebit which contains red wine.
My Yorkshire Rarebit or Rabbit contains Yorkshire ingredients where possible. I used Yorkshire Wensleydale, Yorkshire blue cheese and French mustard. (I don’t like English mustard!) I also used a bit of Cheddar. And I decided to add in a drop of Yorkshire beer:
Black Sheep Ale.
Black Sheep Ale is brewed in Masham, a lovely little Yorkshire village. The story of how the beer got the name, is that Paul Theakston, from a family of famous brewers, decided to “go rogue” or be the “black sheep” in 1992 when Theakstons was sold off to a national company. Paul Theakston set up an independent brewery which is still going strong, producing award winning beers and is very much a family-run firm.
Helen’s Yorkshire Rabbit
- Wensleydale cheese
- Yorkshire Blue cheese
- Slices of mature Cheddar cheese
- Teaspoon French mustard
- Splash of Milk
- Black Sheep Ale
- Wholemeal malted farmhouse style bread
Add a good dollop of Yorkshire blue cheese for each person to a bowl and mix in the milk and mustard. Mash to create a firm, spreadable consistency. Then add a glug of Black Sheep Ale.
Meanwhile, toast the bread very lightly on a low setting on your grill or toaster.
If you are adding bacon, fry or grill this now.
Butter the bread, add a slice of Cheddar and spread the warm Yorkshire blue cheese, ale and mustard mix on top.
Crumble a handful of Wensleydale on each slice.
Place the slices of toast and cheese toppings under a medium grill until the Wensleydale is hot and melting. Scatter the chopped chives on top before serving. Remove the cooked bacon from the pan, if using and add.
Serve on a bed of salad if wished.