A Famous Beer Dish – or it Was
In the early beer renaissance, when beer cookery came up, two dishes were invariably mentioned: Welsh Rabbit and Flemish beef carbonnades, or beef stewed in beer.
Almost all beer fans knew these, or one of them. Today, I’d wager most people under 40 don’t know either, who follow beer or not.
Welsh Rabbit reached its apogee in North America between about 1880 and WW I. Like many dishes, its relative ease of preparation and modest cost ensured popularity. And it was just of the moment, for whatever reason.
Welsh Rabbit was often eaten as a late-night snack, sometimes post-theatre. It was considered a light meal. When well-made it is still very worthy.
The recipe below is from a 1900 issue of Hotel Monthly, a trade journal (via Hathitrust). When the writer, F.G. Bothwell, states “beer” suits the dish as well or better than Bass Ale, he means lager beer.
At the time, lager was generally sweeter than Bass, which explains the opinion, I think. Any beer will work, and a pinch of sugar never hurts.
The injunction for the dish to be served burning hot is completely correct. A tepid rabbit is a travesty.
The dish admits of many variations, but the recipe is a good place to start, or end. As Bothwell wrote: “try it”.