When the organisers of Worcester food and drink festival asked me to do a Brunch theme for my first mid-morning demo of the day, a wonderful little back catalogue of dishes jostled for top spot around my brain like the clacking balls of the TV lottery gadget. Finally, a whose who of retro classics spilled out for final selection causing me to ditch my delicious daily porridge fix for an entire week in favour of the likes of eggs Benedict, Omelette Arnold Bennet, and the final winner: smoked haddock Welsh rarebit.
The girlfriend was overjoyed. We were both forced to up the exercise regime. It was worth it.
Posh cheese on toast or not, once you’ve lathered this special mix on your toast, baguette, smoked haddock, dressed crab or whatever edible platform takes your fancy, ordinary cheese on toast just won’t cut the mustard anymore. You can even do it as a little amuse bouche for a dinner party with little flakes of smoked haddock on a crostini, topped with the grilled rarebit and finished with a soft boiled quails egg.
For the Welsh rarebit:
350g mature cheddar
85ml full fat milk
25g plain flour
1/2 tbsp mustard powder
85ml full fat milk
A few drops of Worcester Sauce
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
4 rashers dry cured streaky bacon
500ml full fat milk
1 bay leaf
400g smoked Haddock loin
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 eggs (for poaching)
2 medium tomatoes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the Welsh rarebit: put the 85ml of milk and the cheddar into a heavy based saucepan. Heat gently, stirring occasionally until the cheese is melted. Don't over-heat as this will split the cheese. When the cheese has melted, stir in the flour, breadcrumbs, mustard powder and Worcester sauce. Stir vigorously over a low heat until thoroughly combined and it starts to ball together and pull away from the sides of the pan.
Set aside for several minutes to cool.
Meanwhile bake the bacon in a 180C degree oven for ten to fifteen minutes until dark brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and immediately drain on absorbent kitchen paper to remove excess fat from both sides. When cool, blitz in a mini food processor or crumble by hand to fine crumbs.
Finish the rarebit by beating the 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk into the mixture until fully combined. This is quicker and easier in a food processor. Keep in the fridge in an airtight container until required.
Heat the milk with the bay leaf in a saucepan until just about to boil. Put the smoked haddock in the pan, turn off the heat and cover with a lid. Allow to stand for ten minutes in which time the haddock will have just cooked through gently in the residual heat. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon or fish slice and pat dry with absorbent kitchen paper.
To serve: Slice the tomato as thin as possible through the equator. Divide the slices between two serving plates and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Meanwhile, bring a pan of water, with the vinegar added, to a rapid simmer. Spread a thick layer of rarebit mix on top of the haddock and place on a metal tray under a hot grill. While the rarebit turns golden brown under the grill, poach the egg in the simmering water until soft. Drain the egg carefully on absorbent kitchen paper to remove any water.
Place a piece on the sliced tomato and top with a poached egg before sprinkling over the bacon crumbs.