Saturday, June 6, 2009

Proper cheese on toast

Serves 4-6

This effectively is as good a Welsh Rarebit as you're likely to make, and the home made garlic wine vinegar (a great storecupboard component for salad dressings) served as a condiment really does work to add an acidity to the richness of the glazed cheese. If you can't be faffed with the vinegar, an extra splash of Worcestershire sauce stands in as a forgiveable deputy. This is really easy weekend stuff too, late in the evening when you've been running around all day doing what you do, this is just the thing to fall back on, I had as good a night in as I can remember with just some great dahl and bread last night, and this is in the same league - rich and packed with flavour but warm and comforting at the same time.

For the topping
50g unsalted butter
50g flour
250ml strong ale
250g grated mature cheddar
20ml Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp English mustard
1/2 tsp grain mustard
1 egg yolk
Salt, pepper and fleur de sel

For the garlic wine vinegar
1 bottle dry white wine
10 cloves of garlic, peeled and squashed
1 sprig each of rosemary, thyme and tarragon
1 tsp black peppercorns
Good-quality white wine vinegar

For the base
1 loaf of sourdough bread

Melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a roux. Heat the beer until hot but not boiling and gradually add to the roux, stirring constantly over a low heat, but taking care not to overwork.

Melt the grated cheese in a bowl over a pan of boiling water and pour into the mixture; stir once to amalgamate, and then remove from the heat. Add the Worcestershire sauce, both mustards, the egg yolk, salt and pepper, then pulse a few times in a food processor until emulsified (it will look matt and pale). Again, do not overwork. Check the seasoning. Allow to cool before refrigerating - it will keep for a week in the fridge no problem.

To make the vinegar, bring the wine to the boil in a non-reactive pan (such as stainless steel or enamel). Add the garlic, herbs and peppercorns, then boil rapidly for 3-4 minutes. Take off the heat and strain through a fine sieve. When cool, add 25ml of white wine vinegar to every 100ml. If it is stored in a sealed bottle or plastic container in a cool, dark place, the garlic wine vinegar will keep for months.

Preheat the grill or turn the oven to 225c/gas mark 7. Cut the loaf into 1in slices, allowing 1 or 2 slices per person. Brush both sides of the bread with melted butter and grill or put in the oven for 5 minutes to toast. Melt 40g-50g of the cheese mix per slice, pour over the bread and cook at the same temperature for 4-5 minutes until golden brown.

Sprinkle a few grains of fleur de sel on top and serve, with the garlic wine vinegar, as a condiment.