Rabbit probably did not originate in Wales, and appears in myriad guises under different names. These are only some of the variations. The single constant is the molten cheese.
I. Basic Rabbit (about 6 servings)
-1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
-1 Tablespoon flour
-1 heaped teaspoon (or more) dry mustard
-½ teaspoon cayenne
-½ cup good bitter ale (an IPA is our preference; others like something less hoppy)
-2 teaspoons Worcestershire or mushroom ketchup or half of each
-about 1 lb Shredded sharp cheese (Cheddar, Cheshire, Lancashire…)
-6 slices of toast
- Melt the butter in a heavy pot over medium heat, whisk in the flour and cook to make a white roux.
- Add the mustard and cayenne, quickly stir in the ale, add the Worcestershire, whisk everything together, watch for a little steam and reduce the heat to low. Ignite the broiler.
- Stir in the cheese. As soon as the rabbit is melted and uniform, spread it on the toast and pop it under the broiler until bubbly and streaked with gold.
- It is very 1950s of the Editor but she likes a little paprika sprinkled over the rabbit before broiling. Smoked paprika also can work if you are in the mood but be parsimonious with it or your rabbit will taste like a chimney.
- You can halve the amounts without harm, but a batch leftover will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge. Good to have in reserve.
- Fergus Henderson’s recipe for rabbit in Nose to Tail Eating is similar, but he likes Guinness in his rabbit. His version is not at all bad but we prefer the snap of the ale.
II. Welsh Rabbit. This is straight from Jane Grigson, and serves only two. You obviously can double or triple it.
-¼ lb shredded Cheddar, Double Gloucester or Lancashire
-3 Tablespoons ale (recommended) or milk
-2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
-salt and pepper
-1 teaspoon or more ‘made’ (that is, pasty not powdered) or ‘prepared’ mustard: Colman’s is English; Dijon or strong German mustard work too.
-toast for two
- Combine the cheese and ale (or milk) in a small heavy pot over medium-low heat until they melt into a thick paste.
- Stir in the butter, salt, pepper and mustard, make sure that the rabbit is hot-- but try not to boil it or it may separate (there is no roux to bind it)--and smear it over the toast.
Heat the broiler.
- Bubble up the rabbit under the broiler and serve hot as hell.
- Buck rabbit is Welsh rabbit topped with a poached egg for each person.
- In The Great American Cookbook, Clementine Paddleford (orig. New York 1960; Rizzoli reprint 2011) includes a recipe for Admiral’s Golden Buck in her chapter on “The Creole Country.” It is in fact a simple rabbit with eggs that does not even require cooking. All you do is pulse together all the ingredients in a food processor, spread the cold mixture on toast and broil the rabbit. This amount makes 12 servings: 1 lb shredded sharp Cheddar; 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature; a beaten egg; ½ teaspoon salt; ¼ teaspoon cayenne; 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire; and of course toast.
- It is noteworthy that the only region that Paddleford identifies is ‘The Creole Country;’ the other chapters cover states. She placed the recipe in her Creole section because “Mrs. Hamilton Polk Jones of a celebrated New Orleans family” served it to her. It is entirely unclear why Mrs. Hamilton Polk Jones called her rabbit ‘The Admiral’s Buck.’
III. Hannah Glasse’s English Rabbit. Earlier English rabbits seem to have favored red wine over ale, stout or milk. Here is Hannah Glasse:
“Toast a slice of bread brown on both sides, then lay it in a place before the fire, pour a glass of red wine over it, and let it soak the wine up; then cut some cheese very thin, and lay it very thick over the bread, and put it in a tin over before, and it will be toasted and brown’d presently. Serve it away hot.” (The Art of Cookery; London 1747)
It is permissible to use a broiler instead of a tin oven, which in any event is a difficult item to find these days.
IV. Mrs. Rundell’s rabbit using eggs. Some five decades later, Mrs. Rundell omits the wine. The more characteristic mustard arrives, along with egg yolks, which also appear in a number of twentieth century rabbits. She does not call this a rabbit, but if it hops….
“To roast Cheese, to come up after dinner
Grate three ounces of fat Cheshire cheese, mix it with the yelks [sic] of two eggs, four ounces of butter, beat the whole well in a mortar, with a tea spoonful of mustard, and a little salt and pepper. Toast some bread, lay the paste as above thick upon it, pour it into a Dutch oven, covered with a dish till hot through, remove the dish, and let the cheese brown a little. Serve as hot as possible.” A New System of Domestic Cookery (London 1806)
V. Lady Shaftesbury’s Rabbit. Another variation using egg yolks but omitting the mustard. Lady Shaftesbury used cream instead of beer and called the recipe ‘Toasted Cheese.’ This is adapted from Jane Grigson’s English Food. (London 1972) For three as a starter or six as a main with salad; use a double boiler.
-2 oz. melted unsalted butter
-about 6 oz shredded Cheddar
-6 Tablespoons heavy cream
-2 egg yolks
- Combine everything in a double boiler until the rabbit melts into itself.
- Pour the rabbit into ramekins and brown them in the broiler.
- Serve with soldiers of toast cut narrowly enough to dip into the ramekins.
VI. “A Scotch rabbit.” This is from the estimable ‘Meg Dods’ (Christine Isobel Johnstone) and reproduced with the appropriate credit by the equally estimable Marian McNeill. It is the only rabbit we have found that uses a blue cheese among its options. It is good.
“Grate down mellow Stilton, Gouda, Cheshire, or a good Dunlop cheese; and, if not fat, put to it some bits of fresh butter. Put this into a cheese-toaster which has a hot-water reservoir, and add to it a glassful of well-flavoured brown-stout porter, a large teaspoonful of made mustard, and pepper (very finely ground) to taste. Stir the mixture till it is completely dissolved, brown it and then filling the reservoir with boiling water, serve the cheese with hot dry or buttered toasts on a separate dish.” The Cook and Housewife’s Manual (Edinburgh 1829)
- Definitely add butter (try a proportion of 1:4) if you use Stilton or another blue cheese; the porter (3-4 Tablespoons for 4 oz cheese) is particularly good with the blue cheese.
- We would prepare this rabbit in a double boiler, smear it on toast and brown the assembly under the broiler.
- Again, made mustard is prepared, rather than dry, mustard. Colman’s sells both.
- Also as noted, a number of recipes use wine. For example, Elisabeth Ayrton includes a recipe for English rabbit from 1830 that calls for “2 tablespoons white wine (or more of the red) for a quarter pound of grated cheddar along with an ounce of butter and 2 teaspoons of made mustard.” (The Cookery of England 425) ‘Dods’ was aware in 1829 that “[s]ome gourmands use red wine instead of porter, but the latter liquor is much better adapted to the flavour of cheese.” We agree with her.
- Johnstone includes a delightful narrative about a cheese and beef rabbit in her footnote to “Cheese to serve as a relish:
“The twenty-eighth maxim of O’Douherty is wholly dedicated to this tasteful subject, and his culinary opinions are worthy of profound attention. ‘It is the cant of the day,’ quoth Sir Morgan, ‘to say that a Welsh Rabbit is heavy eating. I know this--but did I ever feel it in my own case?--Certainly not. I like it best in the genuine Welsh way, however;--that is, the toasted bread buttered on both sides profusely, then a layer of cold roast beef, with mustard and horseradish, and then on the top of all a superstratum of Cheshire thoroughly saturated while in the process of the tasting with curw, or, in its absence, porter--genuine porter--black pepper, and eschalot-vinegar. I peril myself upon the assertion, that this is not a heavy supper for a man who has been busy all day till dinner in reading, writing, walking, or riding,--who has occupied himself between dinner and supper in the discussion of a bottle or two of sound wine, or any equivalent, and who proposes to swallow at least three tumblers of something hot ere he resigns himself to the embrace of Somnus. With these provisos, I recommend toasted cheese for supper.’” ‘Dods’ (i.e. Johnstone), Cook and Housewife’s Manual 323n.
- Actually an excellent roast beef sandwich; recommended, but the learned friend likely is wrong about the rare-bit, as noted by Mrs. Grigson and our article in the lyrical.
VII. Irish Rabbit. Every once in a while something off center and delightful pops up. We have not found this preparation in any specifically Irish cookbook, but a version does appear in British Cookery edited by Lizzie Boyd (Woodstock, New York 1979), an encyclopedic but sometimes clinical compendium of traditional British recipes. The inclusion of vinegar and pickles appears to be unique among rabbits. We particularly like this preparation and it makes a large quantity so that you can keep it on hand in the fridge.
-1 lb grated hard cheese, preferably sharp Irish Cheddar
-1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
-½ cup (4 oz) ale or stout
-1 Tablespoon malt vinegar
-heaped teaspoon (or more) prepared mustard, preferably Colman’s, or another English mustard
-2 Tablespoons finely chopped cornichon (preferred) or sour pickles
-salt, pepper and cayenne to taste
- Put the cheese, butter and milk in a double boiler and heat until melting, then whisk the mixture until it becomes creamy.
- Stir in the mustard, cornichon and seasonings and smear the rabbit on toast as needed.
- Broil as usual.
- The original recipe uses milk instead of beer: If you choose milk, substitute some of the pickling liquid from the cornichon or sherry vinegar for malt.
- A sweeter, and good, alternative to the cornichon is old-fashioned, mainstream pickle or India relish (the green stuff, for hot dogs).
- Chutneys are either too bright (coconut or coriander) or too sweet for this rabbit.
- Boyd also offers a recipe for Yorkshire rabbit that is essentially a basic rabbit topped with poached egg. Nice.
VIII. Philippa Davenport’s “French Rarebit.” This is not much of a rabbit but it is good and will appeal to addicts of soft cheeses like Brie and Camembert from northwestern France: Our focus may be British but we are no Francophobes. The recipe appears in a notation to the chapter on baking bread in the compilation of magazine articles by Mrs. Davenport from Country Living called Country Living Country Cook (London 1987):
“Lightly toast eight thick slices of bread on one side only, spread the untoasted side with a smear of good chutney, cover with thin slices of rindless ripe cheese and grill (broil) gently until just melted and gooey. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and flash briefly under the grill again until the seeds are toasted and the cheese lightly gilded.” (Country Cook 37)
IX. “French Welsh Rabbit.” Elizabeth David’s way appears in Pizza Delivery for what should be the obvious reason.
X. Rabbit Mislabeled Fondue. Elizabeth David got this recipe from a Guinness publicity pamphlet at a time (1964) when anything British was likely to be shunned by the archipelago’s food cognoscenti. Rebranding a traditional dish as French or Swiss was bound to make it more marketable. The only, slight, innovation in this recipe is the use of cornstarch instead of a roux to bind the mixture. It originally appeared in Food and Wine magazine and is reproduced in David’s compilation of essays written from 1952-84, An Omelette and a Glass of Wine. (New York 1985)
-1 lb grated Cheddar or other hard British cheese
-½ cup (4 oz) Guinness or other stout
-1 Tablespoon Worcestershire
-salt, pepper and cayenne to taste
-1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
- Melt the cheese with the Guinness in a double boiler, then whisk the mixture to produce a uniform creamy consistency.
- Stir in the seasonings and cornstarch, stir to bind the rabbit and broil in the usual way.
- Alternatively make a bigger batch and treat the rabbit as fondue. If you choose to do so, add more stout to lighten the consistency so that dipping the bread into the ‘fondue’ is practical. Rabbit, browned and bubbly, is better.
- David neither cooked nor ate many of the recipes that she described in her books and articles. She explicitly admits not having tried this one prior to publication of the original article about it and does not include any annotation that she had done so decades later by the time that she published An Omelette.
- It seems oddly amateurish of the revered Elizabeth David merely to reproduce an advertisement as an article without even testing the recipe, but at the time she was a journalist with deadlines to meet.
XI. Lady Sysonsby’s toasted cheese with hot beer. The rabbit itself, called toasted cheese in common with many others, is unremarkable (butter, cheese, cream, mustard, white pepper). What is remarkable is the beer sauce that Lady Sysonsby (or her cooks) served with it. From Ria Sysonby, Lady Sysonsby’s Cook Book. (London orig. 1935; enlarged edition 1948)
Beer sauce for rabbits:
-1 pint ale
-½ teaspoon ground ginger
-a generous grating of nutmeg (to taste)
-2 teaspoons (or less) sugar (to taste)
- Whisk the dry ingredients with a little of the beer to begin dissolving them in a pot over medium low heat.
- Gradually stir in the remaining beer, increase the heat and cook until the sauce begins to steam but do not allow it to boil.
- Spoon the sauce onto a plate and place the rabbit (cheese on toast) atop the sauce so that the bread absorbs it.
- The sauce sounds strange but tastes good.
- Lady Sysonby specifies the use of “half a grated nutmeg;” that is a lot. She also calls for a lot more sugar, four heaped teaspoons of it; too sweet, we think, for current tastes.
- She is stern about the selection of beer; “Use good mild ale. Draught beer only.” Exemplary advice, although while draft is best, modern bottled ales work fine.
XII. Rabbit with Cider. Curiously, we have found no rabbit recipes that incorporate cider. Cheddar and apples taste good together, and it is traditional in New England to serve a sharp Vermont Cheddar with apple pie, so why not marry the flavors in a rabbit? The Editor’s recipe:
-1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
-1 Tablespoon flour
-a pinch each of mace, nutmeg and allspice
-½ cup hard cider
-about 1 lb sharp Cheddar
-2 teaspoons minced chives or scallions
-6 slices of toast
- Make the rabbit in the usual way by melting butter in a heavy pot over medium heat and whisking in the flour to make a white roux.
- Add the spice, quickly incorporate the ale, watch for a little steam and reduce the heat to low.
Ignite the broiler.
- Stir in the cheese and green onion. As soon as the rabbit is melted and uniform, spread it on the toast and blast it in the broiler until bubbled and golden.
- Good with a dollop of either sweet or savory applesauce.
- You could add a drip of brown sauce like HP or A1 at step 3.
XIII. An early nineteenth century rabbit with Madeira from Quebec. A generous slug of the fortified wine gives this rabbit a beguiling tang. The Editor came across this one in A Taste of History: The Origins of Quebec’s Gastronomy (Quebec 1989) by Marc Lafrance and Yvon Desloges. They ascribe the origin of their recipe to the Crown and Anchor in Quebec City and date it to 1812.
-5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
-1 lb shredded sharp Cheddar
-2 oz beer
-2 oz Madeira
-a beaten egg yolk
Their instructions are succinct and bear quoting in full:
“Melt the butter. Add the cheese and beer. Cook, stirring constantly until the cheese has melted. Add the madeira [sic] and egg yolk and mix well. Cook over low heat for 2 or 3 minutes to heat and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle with the spices.
Pour the cheese mixture over the hot toast and serve.” (Taste of History 78)
- As to the particular beer, for reasons of both authenticity and taste we suggest either an ale or a porter. We also suggest a relatively dry Madeira, Verdelho, and note that you probably will need more than ‘2 or 3 minutes’ to finish the rabbit.
- Lafrance and Desloges slice their cheese; take our advice and shred it instead.
- “During the eighteenth century,” they claim, “the English cheeses Cheshire, Gloucester, Dolphin, Chester, Wiltshire, North Wilton and Stilton were sold by grocers and import merchants. Cheddar did not become widely known until the end of the nineteenth century.” (Taste 78) Presumably they are referring to what would become Canada per se rather than to the colonies to its south or the British Isles.
- The inclusion of a ‘Dolphin’ cheese is an apparent oddity that requires investigation and explanation. We have done our best in the lyrical.
XIV. A rabbit with anchovies. Mrs. Ayrton includes a recipe called mock crab based on anchovies and cheese. Mash together 2 oz each of grated cheese and softened butter, add ½ teaspoon of anchovy paste or mashed anchovy, cayenne and paprika to taste, along with a drip of lemon juice. Serve cold on toast or just barely color the mock crab under the broiler. “The paprika and anchovy give the mixture the faint pink color of crab and a suspicion of its flavour, but the dish is really a very good variant of toasted cheese.” (The Cookery of England 423)
XV. A Jamaican rabbit with shrimp. Another recipe, this one derived from Leila Brandon’s Merry Go Round of Recipes from Jamaica (Kingston, Jamaica 1963), that cheerfully ignores the conventional stricture in some quarters against pairing seafood and cheese.
-4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
-a minced onion
-½ a small minced bell pepper
-1 lb peeled raw shrimp
-another Tablespoon of unsalted butter
-1 Tablespoon flour (as usual, we use Wondra)
-½ cup milk
-1 ½ cups grated Cheddar or other sharp hard cheese
- Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium low heat, add the onion and bell pepper, and cook until they soften.
- Add the shrimp to the vegetables, increase the heat to medium high and cook the mixture until the shrimp just curl into tight rounds. Turn off the heat.
- Melt the other Tablespoon of butter in a separate saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Slowly whisk the milk into the roux and cook the sauce until it bubbles.
- Stir the grated cheese into the white sauce until the cheese melts, season the rabbit with cayenne and dump the shrimp mixture into the saucepan until the combined rabbit is piping hot.
- Serve the shrimp rabbit on toast in the usual way.
- The Merry Go Round recipe uses an additional Tablespoon of butter at step 1.
- It also specifies green bell pepper; we like milder red ones. The choice is up to you.
- The Merry Go Round of Recipes also includes a good, less unconventional Welsh rabbit from Jamaica. Its chief difference from other rabbits is the use of Red Stripe beer, a light Jamaican lager. Melt about 4 cups of grated cheese with a teaspoon (we would use two) of dry mustard and some cayenne in a double boiler. Once the cheese begins to melt, dribble ½ cup of the beer into the pot, whisking constantly until the consistency is smooth and the rabbit is hot. Serve with a sprinkling of paprika and “[t]op with bacon curls if desired.” Mrs. Brandon notes that “[f]or a thicker, creamier rabbit, stir a little of the melted cheese mixture into slightly beaten egg; add to remaining cheese mixture and stir over hot water until thick and smooth.” Presumably she means to call for one egg and we should pardon her stylistic redundancy, for as she claims, this rabbit is “A Sunday Night Supper Delight.”
- Another rabbit made with shrimp appears in Beer and Vittles (London 1955) by Elizabeth Craig. She calls it Indian rabbit and it is an inferior version of Mrs. Brandon’s recipe in its use of canned shrimp, which may have been the only kind widely available in Britain at the time.
XVI. Oyster and ale rabbit. To continue our shellfish theme, Richard Boston includes this recipe in Beer and Skittles. (London 1976) It is weirdly appealing and recommended. For six:
“Place 3 cups grated Cheddar cheese in the top of a double boiler. Add 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1 ½ teaspoons dry mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¾ teaspoon paprika. Cook over almost boiling water, stirring constantly until the cheese begins to melt. Stir in 1 cup beer. When the mixture shows signs of thickening, add I cup well-drained sauce or small Cornish oysters and continue to cook for about 2 minutes, until the cheese is smooth. Pile on hot slices of toast with the crusts removed. Sprinkle each fairly thickly with grated onion or shallot.” (Beer 153)
- ‘Beer’ would have been bitter ale in 1955 Britain; an oyster stout is an equally excellent alternative. We supplement the recipe with a little cayenne added with the mustard, salt and paprika.
- Presumably Mrs. Craig’s usage of ‘sauce’ in the recipe is, like ‘Cornish,’ an adjective mated to ‘oysters.’ In any event that and the reference to drainage got us thinking. If, like the Editor, you husband the liquor from shucking your oysters and hoard it in the freezer, this is a good place to use it. Reverse the two first sentences of the Craig recipe and whisk a Tablespoon of flour into the melted butter before adding the cheese to the pot, and substitute ½ cup oyster liquor for half of the ale. If you are broke you can even dispense with the oysters themselves and still enjoy their enlivening tang.
- For that matter, the thick, dark Asian oyster sauce makes a good addition to rabbit too, but go easy; it can be salty. Start by trying 2 teaspoons in your favorite rabbit and add no salt.
- Both the American Welsh rabbit and Worcester rabbit in Beer and Vittles include Worcestershire; an exemplary addition that benefits any rabbit.
XVII. A rabbit with smoked haddock. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall calls his recipe from The River Cottage Fish Book (London 2007) “drunken smollack rarebit.” The name is awful and so is the ‘smollack, in fact smoked pollack. We understand that pollack is sustainable, but the reason why is plain. Nobody who could choose an alternative would eat it. Its appearance, texture and taste are not quite right. There is nothing wrong, however, with smoked haddock, one of the Editor’s favorite kinds of fish. Nor is their anything wrong with Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe if you substitute the haddock for his ‘smollock.’ For four.
-1 lb boneless smoked haddock
-1 cup milk
-4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
-4 Tablespoons flour
-½ cup ale
-heaped teaspoon mustard; your choice, traditional English, Dijon or wholegrain (like Urchfont; see the Further Notes on Rabbit)
-1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar
-1 heaped Tablespoon chopped parsley
-4 slices of toast
- 1. Bring the haddock and milk to a simmer in a shallow pan, then turn off the heat. Determine whether you can flake the fish; if not, return it to a simmer, turn off the heat again and let it set for a few minutes.
- Remove the fish, flake it and keep the milk simmering.
- Melt the butter in a heavy pot over medium heat and whisk in the flour to make a roux: Cook until smooth but do not let it color.
- Slowly stir the milk and then the ale into the roux.
- Once the sauce thickens (it should not take long).
- Add the cayenne, mustard, Cheddar and pepper.
- Once the cheese has melted, gently fold the flaked haddock and parsley into the pot, spoon the rabbit onto the toast and blast under a broiler until the cheese erupts and turns brown. A black spot or two does no harm.
- Fearnley-Whittingstall uses more butter and flour; that gets awfully thick.
- You should not need salt due to both the smoked fish and cheese, but check for it if you like at Step 8 before blasting your rabbit.
- We particularly like a hoppy India Pale Ale, in general and for this recipe.
- For some reason Fearnley-Whittingstall thinks that “beer with fish is quite quirky” but the Editor likes to use beer to poach smoked haddock in milk and bacon on its own, beer is good in rabbits, so its use in this recipe would seem entirely logical.
Further Notes on Rabbit:
- Richard Boston also includes a recipe called ‘Tailor’s Delight’ in Beer and Skittles, which also has his version of Welsh rabbit. It, like the oystery rabbit from Vittles, is worth both quoting and cooking. To make Tailor’s Delight:
“Grated or thinly sliced Double Gloucester is laid at the bottom of a fireproof dish and thinly spread with a good strong mustard (English, Urchfont or Dijon). Cover the cheese with a strong draught bitter or Worthington White Shield and place in a moderate oven till the cheese melts--or achieve the same result in a saucepan over low heat. When it’s all melted, spoon the cheese over slices of toast and pour the warm beer over the top. Sprinkle with red pepper and the result is the kind of thing Ben Gunn used to dream about in his lonely years marooned on Treasure Island.” (Skittles 121)
- If you do not like this kind of cooking, and writing, then you are hopeless, even inhuman.
- It is gratifying that Boston gives precedence to the English mustards. Urchfont refers to the Wiltshire village where William Tullberg first formulated his wholegrain mustard laced with chili in 1970 and founded the Tracklements Company to sell it. It is beyond gratifying that he based his recipe on a description from John Evelyn’s seventeenth century diaries. There is a rather gruesome photograph of Tullberg on the Tracklements website, where you can order the mustard at www.tracklements.co.uk.
- ‘Red pepper’ of course could refer to either cayenne or paprika. Take your pick. We pick either cayenne or a combination.
- Worthington White Shield is a traditional strong ale with the punch of a barley wine and therefore sold in small bottles, like American ponies. It is Old School good. Britons of a certain age order it in public houses and lace their pints of draft bitter with it. Their practice is sound.
- Branston pickle is a good accompaniment to all rabbits except for those including anchovy; mustard pickle, Picallilli in Britain, is good with most.
- Some authors, including Jenny Baker in Kettle Broth to Gooseberry Fool (London 1996), favor the use of brown ale; we find it too sweet and like the citrus tang from hops that bitter ales provide.
- Gary Rhodes has a characteristically fussy, not to say gratuitously overcomplicated, recipe that lacks beer but uses breadcrumbs, flour, milk, mustard, Worcestershire and eggs as well as egg yolks. You heat everything but the eggs and yolks, let it cool, then fold in the eggs and yolks with a food processor. It is not worth the trouble. From Rhodes Around Britain. (London 1994)
- In Taste: The Story of Britain Through its Cooking (New York 2007), Kate Colquhoun remarks that “[i]n the back of the British Library’s copy of La Chappelle’s Modern Cook is a recipe handwritten by an unknown English cook for something far simpler than the French author’s offerings: ramekins, or baked cheese, made from a paste of half a pound of mild cheese, an ounce of butter and an egg yolk, spread thickly on toast and browned with a red-hot salamander….and there was nothing particularly French about them--indeed they would soon develop into the much-loved rabbits (sometimes known as rarebits today)…. ” (Taste 192) Colquhoun is referring to The Modern Cook by Vincent La Chappelle published in three volumes during 1733. La Chappelle was the Duke of Chesterfield’s celebrated--and, as noted, French--chef, but why anyone might infer that the notes to his book by an English cook recorded a French recipe is a little puzzling. Her reference to the later development is more puzzling still: As we have seen, Mrs. Grigson found explicit English reference to rabbits at least as early as 1725.
- Rabbits also appear as “ramekins” or “ramekins,” especially in the older manuscripts and printed books.
- In American Food (Woodstock, New York 1990), Evan Jones includes a Vermont recipe for Cheddar pudding that is not quite a rabbit. To make it, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 1 quart oven dish generously with unsalted butter. Beat 2 eggs and 2 yolks into a cup of milk and then stir 2 cups of grated sharp Cheddar into the custard. Crush enough common crackers or water crackers to cover your dish with a thin layer three times. Coat the bottom of the dish with one third of the cracker debris, add half of the cheese custard with a little salt and pepper and repeat the process. Top the second layer of custard with a thin skein of minced parsley and scallions. Add the remaining debris and dot it generously with the 2 Tablespoons (or so) of butter. Bake the pudding for about 40 minutes or until it barely sets: It will thicken as it cools. Evans does not include them, but seasonings of cayenne and Worcestershire added to the custard improve the dish. Enough for four hungry people.