When I have weekend houseguests, this is one of my favorite things to serve for breakfast or brunch. The citizens of the British Isles are bonkers for breakfast, and hot Cheddar rabbit spooned over toast and bacon is right up there with their beloved bangers and kippers. Rabbit is actually a cheese sauce, and supposedly got its name because cheese was as common to a Welsh kitchen as the rabbits were ubiquitous in the fields. Some cooks felt that “rabbit” was much too coarse a name for a sauce (and confusing, to boot), and tried to change it to “rarebit.” Although some cookbooks use the upgraded term, “rabbit” is the original.
1. Place the bacon in a cold, large skillet. Cook over medium heat until crisp and brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain and cool. Finely chop the bacon.
2. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the ale to a bare simmer over medium heat. In a medium bowl, toss the cheese with the flour. Gradually stir the cheese into the saucepan, stirring the first batch until melted before adding another. In a small bowl, dissolve the mustard in the Worcestershire sauce. Stir into the fondue, along with the chopped bacon. Allow the fondue to come to a bare simmer, but do not boil. Season generously with the pepper.
3. Transfer to a cheese fondue pot and keep warm over a fondue burner. Serve immediately, with dipping ingredients of your choice.
Welsh Rarebit with Shrimp: Add ½ pound cooked, peeled, and finely chopped shrimp.