Otherwise known as cheese toast, rarebit is prepared with cheese sauce rather than cheese slices like the popular North American grilled cheese. Irish Gherkin Rarebit has pickles too, which is why it just might be my favourite! Cheap and easy, serve these with a side salad and extra gherkins for a complete meal!
Let me start out by stating that I am not an expert on the many ins and outs of rarebit. The dish is relatively new to me. I’ve tried Brian’s recipe for Welsh Rarebit a few times and loved it! But this Irish Gherkin Rarebit has chopped gherkins – otherwise knowns as cornichons – which bumps it up to first place! I find it quite difficult to say no to anything that has pickles of almost any kind in it.
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Welsh Rarebit or Welsh Rabbit is a dish consisting of a hot cheese-based sauce served over slices of toasted bread. The original 18th-century name of the dish was jokingly coined Welsh Rabbit, which was later renamed Welsh Rarebit because the fact is, the dish contains no rabbit at all! Variants include English Rabbit, Scotch Rabbit, Buck Rabbit, etc, and now, Irish Rarebit as well.
VARIATIONS ON THE DELICIOUS RAREBIT
As previously mentioned, there are some variants to explore. For example, to make a Scotch Rarebit, toast a piece of bread very nicely on both sides, butter it and cut a slice of cheese about as big as the bread and lay it on the bread. To make a Welsh Rarebit, toast the bread on both sides, then toast the cheese on one side, lay it on the toast, and with a hot iron brown on the other side. You may rub it over with mustard.
An English Rarebit is prepared by toasting a slice of bread on both sides. Place it on a plate and pour a glass of red wine over it and let the toasted bread soak it up. Slice the cheese very thinly and lay it on the bread. Broil it until the cheese is melted and bubbly. One particular version, Buck Rarebit, which is most definitely have to try, has a fried egg placed on top of it just before serving. I love an over-easy fried egg on just about anything, so I can’t wait to try that!
There’s also a version called Blushing Bunny, which is Rarebit served with tomato soup. I’ve seen this version prepared with a slice or two of fresh tomato under the cheese sauce before being placed under the broiler to get all gooey and bubbly. That’s as close to the popular North American grilled cheese and tomato soup combo as it will ever get.
I should note that all of these variations have variations of their own. In some versions of rarebit, you will see ingredients like Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Not all of the recipes are the same and that is because they have been adapted and changed over the years. Rarebit is most certainly a budget-friendly type recipe, so I encourage you to experiment with the variations until you either find one you like or you invent a variation that is all your own!
INGREDIENTS NEEDED TO PREPARE THIS RECIPE
The following is a list of the ingredients needed to prepare this Irish Gherkin Rarebit recipe. For exact amounts and measurements, refer to the printable recipe card located near the bottom of this post.
- Butter – 99% of the time I will tell you to use whatever butter you have on hand – salted or unsalted. But, in this particular case, salted butter is the way to go! It really does make the dish more savoury and flavourful.
- Milk – When a baking recipe requires milk, I always use whole milk, unless otherwise stated.
- Cheese – Any good melting cheese will work in this recipe. I’m using shredded mozzarella, but cheddar would be a great choice too.
- Vinegar – Basic vinegar is best here. Save the fancy stuff for your salad dressings and use just plain white vinegar in this recipe.
- Mustard – Just like the vinegar, just plain yellow mustard for this recipe. Save the grainy or hot mustard for another day.
- Ground Black Pepper
- Gherkins – Sometimes called cornichons, gherkins are small pickles with a smoky flavour.
- Bread – Use bread that has some weight to it and one that will toast up real nicely. I like sourdough bread for this recipe, but a great option would be Irish Soda Bread too!
WHAT ARE GHERKINS?
According to Cooked Best, here’s what you need to know about gherkins, or what they are otherwise known as – cornichons. In most English-speaking countries, these small pickles are sold under their French name, cornichons, but the English call them gherkins. So you may be wondering what are cornichons. They come from a few different types of gherkin plants that are generally small and picked when quite young. The most popular used varieties of cucumber used for cornichons are Parisienne cornichon de Bourbonne and fin de Meaux cucumber.
Gherkins have a striking resemblance to cucumbers, but they are not true cucumbers. They are a close relative to the cucumber but have a bumpy exterior. They are one to two inches long, and their width is about the size of a child’s finger. The texture of this little cucumber cousin is crunchy, and the taste is tart and mildly sweet.
In French cooking, pickles do not have a huge part, but the crunchy bite of cornichons balances out pâté, cured meat and cheese. Moreover, terrines, charcuterie items and raclettes welcome this tiny crisp pickle with open arms. They are great on appetizer platters, added to salad and sandwiches and chopped up in classic deviled eggs.
HOW TO MAKE IRISH GHERKIN RAREBIT
Add the butter to a saucepan over low heat and once melted, add in the milk and the cheese. Stir until the cheese is fully melted and all three ingredients are well incorporated. Next, add in the vinegar, mustard, ground black pepper, and finely chopped gherkins. Stir to combine and remove the cheese mixture from the heat.
Set the cheese and gherkin mixture aside to cool for ten minutes. In the meantime, toast four slices of your favourite bread. Sourdough is a great choice! Once the bread is toasted, transfer it to a baking sheet and evenly distribute the melted cheese and gherkin mixture over the top of the four slices of toasted bread.
Place the baking sheet in your oven or toasted oven and set to broil. Broil until the cheese is hot and bubbly and just slightly browned. Remove from the oven, plate, and serve immediately.
TRY IRISH SODA BREAD!
Irish Soda Bread is a heavy, dense bread, which makes it perfect for toasting and even more perfect for holding all of the melted cheese and gherkin pickle sauce. I’ve made this bread a few times and it always turns out perfectly. I’m just not sure why I only ever make it around St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe it’s because it’s Irish. Maybe it’s because soda bread is a non-spoken requirement for all bloggers during this time of year.
If you’re new to baking bread, you should certainly start with this one! There are a few reasons why. First, there are very few ingredients. Second, those ingredients are cheap. And, third, you can practice your kneading skills.
Irish Soda bread consists of only five ingredients. You’ll need flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. Now, in most homes, the only ingredient you’ll need to buy is buttermilk. Most homes will already have the other ingredients in the pantry. The recipe is here!
Irish Gherkin Rarebit should always be the star of the meal, so don’t overcomplicate things with fancy, flavourful side dishes. Because of the richness of the cheese, milk, and butter, I like to serve rarebit with a simple side salad. As you can see from the photographs, I opted for the simplest of salads. I roughly chopped and washed kale and paired it with tomatoes that I cut into wedges. For the dressing, I whisked together olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire Sauce, salt, and ground black pepper. It was wonderful!
Do You Like This Recipe?
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Irish Gherkin Rarebit
- 1/4 cup salted butter
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- 2 cups shredded mozarella cheese
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup gherkins (cornichons), finely chopped
- 4 slices sourdough bread
- Add the butter to a saucepan over low heat and once melted, add in the milk and the cheese. Stir until the cheese is fully melted and all three ingredients are well incorporated.
- Next, add in the vinegar, mustard, ground black pepper, and finely chopped gherkins. Stir to combine and remove the cheese mixture from the heat.
- Set the cheese and gherkin mixture aside to cool for ten minutes.
- In the meantime, toast four slices of sourdough bread.
- Once the bread is toasted, transfer it to a baking sheet and evenly distribute the melted cheese and gherkin mixture over the top of the four slices of toasted bread.
- Place the baking sheet in your oven or toasted oven and set to broil. Broil until the cheese is hot and bubbly and just slightly browned.
- Remove from the oven, plate, and serve immediately.
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