Perfect Sussex Charmer Rarebit

Welsh_rarebit

Since Hove Museum has closed it’s cafe doors, we have been on the lookout for a replacement proper Welsh Rarebit.   A good Rarebit is not necessarily just posh cheese on toast.  It’s a melting combination of whipped cheese, butter and flour with the lightly nutty aftertaste of a dash of beer and served with a crisp, spicy rocket salad.  Sometimes served with an additional egg, but that’s just overkill in our book.

I’ll say traditionally a good Rarebit has been made with a salty, mature cheddar, but of course, the dish itself was (is!) a Welsh tradition appropriated by the rest of the UK and Cheshire or Caerphilly cheese is often used.  Both Cheshire and Caerphilly cheeses have a slightly citrussy tangy taste, so for us, we prefer something a little more oozy and mildly buttery.

We are very lucky to have THE perfect Rarebit cheese from a local cheesemaker, Rob, from Bookham Harrison over in leafy Funtington, near Chichester meandering at the foot of the South Downs.  Sussex Charmer is a punchy hard cheese which is the lovechild of Cheddar and Parmesan (and certified vegetarian) with the gutsiness of a good Parmesan and the creaminess of cheddar.

How to make a perfect Sussex Rarebit

Important note here…the bread is very important.  A good thick slab of a wholemeal sourdough is delicious and robust enough to withstand a rich sauce without becoming soggy .  But that said, if you prefer white, then just cut it from a good fresh loaf and don’t stint on the thickness of the slice.

Serves 4 | Prep 10 minutes | Cook 10 minutes

Ingredients

225g Sussex Charmer cheese
25g salted butter
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (if you’re vegetarian, we had a go at making vegan Worcester sauce – recipe here)
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
4 free range egg yolks
A good sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons of golden beer – try Long Man Long Blonde or Dark Star Hophead
4 thick slices of bread

Method

Mix the mustard with the beer in the bottom of a small pan to make a paste, then add the butter and about 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce – you can always add more later if you like. Heat gently until the butter has melted.

Mix in the cheese and stir carefully until it has just melted but be careful not to let it boil or burn.  Once you have a sauce, season if required, then allow to cool until just slightly warm, being careful the mixture doesn’t cool to be come solid.

Pre-heat the grill to medium-high, and toast the bread on one side and just lightly toast the other. Beat the yolks into the warm cheese until smooth, and then spoon on to the toast and cook until bubbling and golden.

Serve immediately with a spicy leaf salad and some tiny cherry tomatoes to balance the rich flavours.

 


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Perfect Sussex Charmer Rarebit

Broad beans

 

About broad beans …

The broad bean – which you might know as the Fava bean – is a crop which originated in the Mediterranean region or southwestern Asia and are one of our most ancient crops – so great for paleo digestive properties. Broad beans are a great source of protein and carbohydrates.They are rich in potassium, which can have beneficial effects on blood pressure.

Did you know? Broad beans also contain an amino acid (called L-dopa), which stimulates the brain to make dopamine – the chemical associated with happiness.

 

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How to store them?

You can keep them in a perforated bag in the fridge for up to 5 days. But the easiest way to store broad beans remains by freezing them. This way they can be used cooked or defrosted as and when needed. They can also be dried and stored in air-tight jars but be careful to avoid damp, as this can make the beans ferment, so follow instructions carefully if you go down this route.

Preparation

To prepare the beans, first of all you have to pod them. Put them in a pan, cover with boiling water, return to the boil and cook for 3-5 minutes. Then drain, empty into cold water, slit each pod along its seam and run your thumb along the furry inside to push the beans out.  New season tender beans don’t need double podding but as the season progresses you might need to pop them out of their rubbery skins.

How to cook them?

The creamy texture of broad beans complements sharper, salty flavours perfectly. Toss beans with Greek cheese to create a tasty topping for bruschetta, simply sauté with anchovy fillets and seasonal tomatoes to accompany meat dishes or combine with lemon juice for a warm, zesty salad base for halloumi.

You can also try to create a taste sensation and super fresh flavour by combining broad beans with mint. If you like it subtle, add a few mint leaves to soup or sides to intensify the taste by stirring in a couple of tablespoons of mint sauce.

 

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Here is a simple and totally delicious recipe for a quick supper, from the BBC Good Food website (we don’t want to lose this site as their recipes are fab and all work!) ; a crushed broad bean pesto.

Ingredients 

  • 300g. podded fresh broad beans
  • 2 garlic clove, halved lengthways
  • 3 anchovy fillets , chopped
  • 25g. parmesan, grated – or use wonderful veggie Twineham Grange parmesan
  • juice and zest 1/2 lemon
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  1. Cook the broad beans in a pan of boiling salted water for 3 mins until they float. Drain and quickly run under ice-cold water to stop them cooking. Squeeze the small green beans from their skins and discard the skins.
  2.  Fry the garlic and anchovies in a small pan for a few mins until golden, then stir through the broad beans. Transfer to a bowl (or use a pestle and mortar) and crush the broad beans with the Parmesan, lemon juice and zest, and oil. Will keep in the fridge for 3 days.

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Broad beans