Welsh Rarebit

There are special recipes to consider now that the fall and winter seasons are coming upon us. One of those recipes is Welsh Rarebit. I love English “Pub Grub” comfort foods and a well prepared Welsh Rarebit soothes and relaxes like few others dishes can do, especially on a cold day.


O.K. Men! This may not be a romantic nosh, but once in a while you have to treat yourself.



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Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons of Room Temperature Butter

2 Tablespoons of All Purpose flour

1 Teaspoon of Mustard (use your favorite spicy brown, Dijon, whatever)

1 Teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce

½ Teaspoon each of Salt and Pepper

½ Cup of Dark Beer (Aficionados of this dish love to use a porter, but I prefer Shiner Bock)

¾ Heavy Cream or Half n’ Half

6 Oz. Shredded Cheddar Cheese (do not use aged cheese)

8 Slices of bread (I prefer seedless rye)

Step 1:  In a 2 quart pot, melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a roux. Let the roux cook for at least 1 – 2 minutes. Remember, you can’t put cold butter into a hot pan. It will turn brown and nasty in seconds. It’s better to use room temperature butter and melt it over medium heat.

Step 2: Add the beer. The beer will cool off the pot, which will allow you to add the cream without shocking it. Go ahead and add the cream and all other ingredients except the cheese

Step 3: When the mixture has heated (not boiling) you can add the cheese and stir. The cheese will melt and absorb the liquid creating a silky smooth cheese sauce. If you let this mixture boil (or used aged cheddar) the sauce will be gritty instead of smooth and creamy.

This is also a good time to toast your bread.

Step 4: Move an oven rack to the highest position and turn on your broiler. Spoon the cheese sauce over each toasted slice. I like to put my slices of bread on a cookie sheet. Watch as the cheese starts to bubble and create a brown crust. It can go from golden brown goodness to black burnt yuck very quickly. Have your oven mitts ready to remove the cookie sheet instantly.

Step 5: Eat and enjoy. It washes down especially well with the same beer that you used to make the sauce.

I could not get my hands on a bakery quality loaf of seedless rye bread and had to opt for a country white loaf as evidenced by the photo. It was still quite yummy, and so was the beer.

Is your recipe different? Let me know how this came out.

Got My Eye on a Cottage Pie

Pining for a cozy cottage with a warm fire in the English countryside? I don’t have one either, but this recipe helps me dream about it.

 

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Ingredients for the meat filling:

1 cup of small diced onion

½ cup of carrot (peel, chop, two or three pulses in a food processor)

½ cup of celery (peel, chop, two or three pulses in a food processor)

1 pound of ground beef or lamb (or a combo of both)

3 tablespoons of oil (I prefer olive oil…feel free to use your favorite)

2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of black pepper

1 teaspoon of tomato paste

1 cup of beef stock (use chicken or vegetable if preferred)

½ teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon of Jugo or Bovril (beef flavor booster)

Cheddar cheese (optional – as much as you want)

Ingredients for the Mashed Potatoes:

1 ½ pound of russet potatoes

¼ cup of heavy cream, Half n’ Half, or milk

½ teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon of white pepper

2 tablespoons of butter

Step 1. Heat the oil in a large skillet or a large cast iron frying pan (the best). Put the carrot in first because it takes longer to cook.  After 3 minutes, add the onion and celery, and cook until the onions start to look soft and translucent.

Step 2. Start heating a second large skillet OR transfer the vegetables to a soup bowl.

Place the beef or lamb into the hot skillet and let it cook. It’s best to leave meat alone for 2-3 minutes before turning or moving it around. You want to get some color on it. If you have large clumps of meat, break it up. Once the meat is cooked, add the veggies back into the skillet.

Mix the meat and veggies together and then sprinkle in the flour. Mix and leave it for at least one minute.  The flour has to toast or else the finished pie will have a pasty raw dough taste.

Step 3. Add in the rest of the ingredients (except the cheese), bring to a boil and simmer for at least 10-15 minutes.

Step 4. Peel and quarter the potatoes and bring to a boil until fork tender.

Step 5. Bring the butter and cream to room temperature (microwave if needed).

Step 6. Drain potatoes and mash (I use a ricer).

Step 7. Add the butter, cream, salt, and pepper to the potatoes and beat with a hand mixer.

 

Putting it All Together:

I prefer to make individual servings. Spoon the meat mixture into a single-serving croc until its half-full. Then place the mashed potatoes on top.  Don’t press the potato into the meat mixture; you want it to float on top, creating two distinct layers. Use a rubber spatula to create a potato seal around the edges.

If you’re ready to eat right away, preheat your oven to 325 and place the crocs on the middle rack for 20 minutes. If you’re going to use the cheddar cheese, place it on top of each croc for the last 5 minutes of baking.  If you’re not hungry yet, the crocs can go into the fridge instead, ready to be heated up whenever you like.

Yield: 4 servings