Welsh rarebitWelsh rarebit

Although I have no recollection of ever eating it before last Thursday, every woman in my family insists that we’ve been eating welsh rarebit on Thanksgiving morning since well before I was born. I think they’re all crazy, because it’s not a treat I’d be likely to forget. I probably slept through it a few times, and other times I was away. Either way, I partook of the rarebit festivities this year, and I’m glad to finally be down.

Welsh rarebit, according to the Wikipedia, was originally called Welsh rabbit, and it seems to have been a disparaging description of the Welsh equivalent of stewed rabbit. It is also (much less evocatively) referred to as cheese on toast, but I’m sticking with the name welsh rarebit. I got Grandma to give up the recipe:

2/3 cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, dash of cayenne, 3 cups milk, 3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/3 cup butter, 3 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese

I make the basic white sauce with all the ingredients except the cheese. Then I add the grated cheese, and that’s it. Bon app├ętit!

By making the basic white sauce, she means to melt the butter and then to whisk in the flour and cook for a few minutes without browning. The rest of the ingredients go in, and the cheese goes in once all is blended. Traditional recipes seem to add beer after the other seasonings, which sounds delicious, and I see others with Tabasco. Over toast and bacon, though, Grandma’s was perfect.

Apropos of nothing, this is a picture I took of the wall in her kitchen, and it makes me feel happy to look at it.


Mmm… welsh rarebit. I can’t say I’ve ever had it on this side of the pond, but they sure know how to make it in England. Maybe I’ll give it a whirl one of these days. Lord knows I need more excuses to eat cheese.

And don’t forget that one reason we always have it on Thanksgiving morning is that Mom makes a huge batch of it and the extra does double duty as the sauce for the creamed onions at the dinner table.

Mmmm good.
And if you put sliced tomatoes between the bread and the sauce, and run it under the broiler, it is something else again. I forget the name,but it sure is good. (“Scottish Woodcock”?)

If you put leftover turkey and a few crisp slices of bacon between the two, you have a Pittsburgh classic, which I believe originated in the long gone lunch room of the now “repurposed” Webster Hall Hotel in Oakland.You run this one under the broiler too, and it is called a “Turkey Devonshire.”

Some other ’burghian restaurants still serve various “Devonshires”, including the over-the-top “Crab Devonshires.” I may have to research this a bit and post about Devonshires.

The Turkey Devonshire would have been a perfect suggestion for some of those lists that were going around last week, uses for the leftover Thanksgiving bird. I only made it at home once, and don’t think I had leftovers to work with so it was a lot of effort, but boy, was it a man-pleaser!

Leland: I also always serve Welsh Rarebit on Christmas morning. I can make it the day before and have it slowing warming up while we open presents. Just looking at the photo makes my mouth water! We sure had a nice Thanksgiving, didn’t we?

You can actually order a delicious Turkey Devonshire at the Blue Bar at the Algonquin Hotel in NYC— it’s perfect for a cold day doing holiday shopping!

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