At Tilda All Day, chef Claire Welle turns this classic English pub snack into the cheesy ale toast of our cold winter dreams, topping it with a welcoming, clean celery-leaf and scallion (almost-salad) garnish. At the restaurant, nothing gets wasted, and Welle substitutes out half of the butter with rendered bacon fat, making the cheese sauce extra rich.
A French roux is a simple way to thicken a sauce, as in this recipe, but it can be tricky. Because you aren't cooking the starch out completely, the cheese sauce gets a little grainy as it cools. Don't panic! This is normal. When the chilled thick cheesy sauce is slabbed over toast and placed under the broiler, the starch dissolves and melts into a creamy and bubbling, perfect Welsh rarebit.
To learn more, read "Silly Rarebit."
Recipe adapted from Claire Welle, Tilda All Day, Brooklyn, NY
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
For the Cheese Sauce:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup dark ale (such as New Castle, nothing hoppy)
1¾ cups shredded 2-year-aged cheddar cheese (6 ounces cheese)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon Tabasco
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Welsh Rarebit:
⅓ cup celery leaves (from 1 bunch celery)
3 to 4 scallions, green parts only, finely sliced lengthwise and soaked in cold water
Four ¾-inch-thick slices of good, crusty bread (such as a boule or levain), toasted
4 lemon wedges
1. Make the cheese sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat the butter, garlic and bay leaf over medium heat. When the butter begins to foam, gradually add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook until bubbling and thickened, creating a blond roux (no browning), 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Slowly add the beer to the roux and bring to a boil, constantly stirring until a thick sauce forms, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the shredded cheddar, Worcestershire and Tabasco. Return the saucepan to low heat, stirring often, until the cheese is just dissolved, 1½ minutes. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, then transfer to a small bowl. Cover the cheese sauce with plastic wrap, letting the wrap directly touch the sauce, and chill in the fridge until it sets, a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 3 days. Makes 1½ cups.
3. Make the Welsh rarebit: Ten minutes before serving, preheat the oven to broil and remove the cheese sauce from the fridge.
While the oven is heating, in a small bowl, toss together the celery leaves and scallions; set aside.
4. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the toasted bread slices in a single layer. Slather a generous amount of cheese sauce over each slice, then broil until the sauce begins to bubble and blister, 2 to 2½ minutes. To serve, top each Welsh rarebit with the celery-scallion garnish and plate the lemon wedges alongside.