Swaledale rabbit

Swaledale rabbit (no rabbits were harmed in the production of this dish)

This bunny-free recipe is a shameless celebration of the wonderful Swaledale Cheese – Wensleydale’s smarter brother. I consider a ripe Swaledale to be midway between cheddar and parmesan in flavour and often use it to add a local touch to Italian dishes, especially spaghetti carbonara. When I read that Delia Smith uses half cheddar and half parmesan in her Welsh Rabbit (she prefers ‘rabbit’ to ‘rarebit’) I had to try a Swaledale version.

Rabbit is generally made with beer and many recipes opt for stout, but I find the taste too strong for the dish and resulting colour a bit unappetising. ‘Gunnerside Gold’ from the Yorkshire Dales Brewery is a good choice – about as dark and strong as I would choose to go – and their ‘Muker Silver’ is good for a lighter touch. Henderson’s Relish rounds off the Yorkshire theme as an alternative to Worcestershire Sauce.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 25 g flour
  • 25 g butter
  • 125 ml beer
  • 125 g ripe Swaledale cheese
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • A good dash of Henderson’s Relish / Worcestershire Sauce
  • 4 slices of robust bread


Make a roux with the flour and butter in a small saucepan. Warm the beer in a microwave and then stir in to the roux little by little to create a smooth sauce. Let it cook gently (without sticking) for a minute or two then stir in the grated cheese, mustard and your ‘good dash’. Once the cheese has melted remove from heat – it can cool a little while you prepare the toast.

Lightly toast the bread, then smother with your cheesy mixture. Grill until the sauce starts to bubble and brown.

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