A Vermonter’s Welsh Rabbit

Welsh Rabbit is a traditional New England dish imported from the UK, but in Vermont we add a little maple twist!

This is a lovely Sunday night supper, one that graced many a New England table when I was growing up – a simple, spiced-up cheese and beer sauce over toast (my preference is seeded rye), usually made with a dark beer or ale. A touch of maple syrup adds a little interest, and if you like, top with a slice or two of tomato.

You can also make this in a big batch. Line a baking dish with the toast, pour the cheese sauce over, then top with a little more cheese and pop under the broiler for a couple of minutes, until bubbly and starting to brown.

By the way, this is a vegetarian dish, and was never made with rabbit, any more than mock turtle soup has turtle in it.

1 cup light cream, half and half, dairy or plant milk, warmed

3 tbsp. butter

3 tbsp. flour, Wondra or all-purpose flour

2/3 cup stout or ale, room temperature

1 tsp. Coleman’s dried mustard

1 tsp. hot or sweet Hungarian paprika

1 tbsp. dark amber maple syrup

6 to 8 ounces of Vermont cheddar, sharp or extra sharp

Black pepper to taste

2 egg yolks

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce.

Hearty seeded rye or other bread of choice, toasted

 Warm cream and have ready, and toast the bread and have it ready as well.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine butter and flour and mix well with a whisk until nicely blended. Cook for a moment.

Add the beer, slowly, whisking all the while to keep out lumps. Once nice and smooth, add the cream, mustard, and paprika.

Continue whisking  until smooth and thickened, then switch to a wooden spoon and add the cheddar and black pepper. Stir until the cheese is melted, remove from the heat, and add the egg yolks and Worcestershire sauce, blending a little of the hot mixture first into the eggs slowly to temper them before adding it back to the pot.

Pour over your toast and  You can stop right there, that is how my mother made it. However, you can also sprinkle a little bit of Parmesan over all and pop under the broiler until starting to brown. Much better! Swirl maple syrup over each serving, as little or lot as you like.

If you like, add a couple of slices of tomato to each serving, and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.

To dress it up for a party:

This makes a great economical appetizer that pleases most folks! Toast ten pieces of your bread of choice and place on a cookie sheet. Snuggle them tight together. Top with some of the sauce, not too much, and sprinkle Parmesan or other cheese on top. Broil until nicely browned.

Let cool a few minutes, then slice into small appetizer pieces, about four to six pieces per slice of bread depending on the size. Sprinkle with fresh, minced parsley. You can get even more dressed up by adding a piece of  browned sausage, a little half cherry tomato, or combination of different selections. Everyone can have their favorite.

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