Hard Cider Rarebit

Even though the Food52 Cookbook Club has moved on to May’s book, I am continuing to cook from Simple. This may be the last recipe I post for a while, but there are so many great dishes in this book that I want to try, you can expect to see more in the coming months.

Many more recipes that I want to try.

Belonging to this group has been a great way to get well acquainted with the cookbook, both by diving in and cooking from it myself and from seeing the photos and comments from the other members.

I enjoyed Diana Henry’s book so much, in fact, that I have added a few more of her titles to my collection. Her recipes suit my palate well.

Here is a great lunch to make if you have a bit of time. The addition of the cider elevates this and because the entire can wasn’t used in the creation of this open-faced sandwich, I got to drink it. A great pairing.

Start with the sauce making.

Get some butter and flour in a saucepan and heat it. Stir it with a whisk to combine.

Butter and flour.

This will make a roux.

A roux.

Measure the cider…

Hard cider.

…and add it to the roux (off the stove), a bit at a time.

Add the cider (the whatfoodimade action shot™!).

Now it’s a sauce.

The cider is incorporated.

Add mustard and Worcestershire to the sauce.

Add mustard and Worcestershire sauce.

Add the cheese too.

Add the grated cheddar.

Now it’s a cheese sauce.

Cheese sauce.

Get an egg and a few grinds of pepper into the mix. I cooked this for a while, though the recipe doesn’t say to do that.

Add an egg and some pepper.

Slice the bread.

A pair of bread slices.

Make it into toast.


Load the toast with as much of the cheese sauce as you can. I had some sauce left over, so I will find bigger bread next time. Or I could toast more slices.

Broil the slices until the tops are bubbling and golden.

Broiled rarebit.

Serve the rarebit with the extra cider.

Hard Cider Rarebit with cider on the side.

This recipe is a bit different than the one in the book (there is no pear in the book), but it’s close enough.

Hard Cider Rarebit
The ultimate cheese-on-toast recipe, starring pears and cider
Serves two

The addition of egg is not to everyone’s taste (nor is it everyone’s idea of what a rarebit should be) but I like it. It turns a snack into a very good supper. I’ve even been known to add bacon, too. A watercress salad and a glass of cider are perfect on the side. Leave out the pear if it doesn’t appeal.

1 ripe pear
40g (1-1/2oz) butter
25g (1oz) plain flour
125ml (4fl oz) dry cider
100g (3-1/2oz) mature cheddar, grated
1 tsp English mustard (made, not the powder)
shake of Worcestershire sauce (optional)
freshly ground pepper
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tbsp apple brandy or calvados
2 slices of bread from a lovely white bloomer

Peel the pear, cut it into quarters and core, then cut into eighths. Heat 15g (½oz) of the butter in a small frying-pan and sauté the pear on both sides until lightly golden. Set aside.

Preheat the grill. (Some domestic ones can take a while to get hot enough.) Melt the rest of the butter and add the flour. Stir over a medium heat until a roux forms. Take the pan off the heat and start adding the cider, a little at a time, stirring well after each addition and beating to make sure no lumps form. Once you have added all the cider, return the pan to the hob and stir as you bring the mixture to the boil. You should end up with the smooth, thick sauce. Turn the heat down to low and add the cheese, mustard and Worcestershire sauce (if using). Stir to help the cheese melt completely then season with pepper and add the beaten egg and brandy, stirring well to incorporate.

Toast the bread and place in heatproof gratin dish (to save the grill pan). Cover it with the pear slices and divide the cheese mixture between the two. Place under the grill and cook until bubbling and golden.


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