Eighteenth-century English cookbooks reveal that Rabbit was considered to be a luscious supper or tavern dish, based on fine cheddar-type cheeses and wheat breads, which were central to English cuisine.
Carried to the New World by colonists, it survived through most of the nineteenth-century in its many forms with such names as Toasted Cheese or Yorkshire Golden Buck. By the late 1800s it had achieved elevated status as Rarebit, one of the period’s fashionable and often pretentious chafing dish presentations.
When made at home, the American version often resembled an open-faced, melted cheese sandwich. This version harkens back to the original recipe taking advantage of sharp cheddar cheese and fine porter beer.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup porter beer
¾ cup heavy cream
1 ½ cups sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
2 drops hot sauce (your choice)
4 slices toasted multigrain bread
In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook, whisking constantly for 2 to 3 minutes, being careful not to brown the flour. Whisk in mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper until smooth. Add beer and whisk to combine. Pour in cream and whisk until well combined and smooth. Gradually add cheese, stirring constantly, until cheese melts and sauce is smooth; this will take 4 to 5 minutes. Add hot sauce. Pour over toast and serve immediately.