Welsh Rarebit

The ultimate recipe for a classic Welsh Rarebit and the best cheese on toast you've ever had, from the team behind London's prestigious St John restaurant.

The Book of St John: Still a Kind of British Cooking
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Welsh Rarebit is a noble version of cheesy toast. Everyone loves cheesy toast! Our rarebit is a proud thing and, if we might say so, extremely popular.* So it is odd that Fergus gleaned this recipe from a chef who had previously worked at Buck’s Club, which was well known at the time for selling the worst rarebit in London.

To serve at least 4, depending on the dimensions of your toast


a knob of butter
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp English mustard powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper
A very long splash of Worcestershire sauce, and a bottle to serve
200ml Guinness
450g mature strong Cheddar, grated
4 pieces of good white bread


Melt the butter in a pan, stir in the flour, and let this cook together until it smells biscuity but is not browning. Add the mustard powder and cayenne pepper, stir in the Worcestershire sauce and the Guinness, then gently melt in the cheese. When it’s all of one consistency, remove from the heat, pour out into a shallow container, and allow to set. It will keep happily in the fridge for a couple of weeks in this state.

Take each piece of bread and toast on both sides. Allow to cool just a little, then cover one side with the rarebit mixture to about 1cm thick – if you find that it doesn’t spread with ease, press it on with your fingers. Put on a baking sheet and place under the grill until golden and bubbling – grilling to just beyond your comfort threshold, to allow the flour to cook out.

When it comes to eating, irrigation channels are essential: make a gentle criss-cross pattern on your hot rarebit with a knife, creating the perfect flood plain for the Worcestershire sauce.

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