Welsh rarebit and leek sandwiches



These are the most delicious morsels of toasted cheesy wonder. I like to serve them with a green salad for supper, but cut into quarters or tiny squares they make a delectable nibble when friends pay you a surprise visit. Just whack them out on a big wooden board and people will be swooning with delight. It is important to make the mix at least an hour before you want to eat so that it has a chance to set.


  • 20g butter
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp English mustard powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • A good splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 220ml strong ale
  • 500g extra mature Cheddar
  • 2 medium leeks
  • 1 sourdough loaf, cut into thin slices


Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan and, when sizzling, stir in the flour and cook for a few  minutes until it smells toasted but hasn’t browned. Add the mustard powder, cayenne pepper and Worcestershire sauce before stirring in the ale, bit by bit. Add the cheese and stir to melt until you have a smooth, fairly thick sauce.

Pour the sauce into a shallow container and transfer to the fridge or freezer to set. You want it to be a completely firm paste the texture of playdough by the time you are ready to cook.

Meanwhile, clean the leeks under running water, trim and slice into thin (½ cm) rounds. Simmer them in boiling water for a few minutes until soft, then drain, pushing out any excess water. Season

well with salt and pepper.

When you are ready to eat, scoop out some cheese mix (kids love doing this bit) and mould into a paddle the same shape as the bread slices and about ½–1cm thick, depending on how greedy you feel.

Spread the outsides of the bread slices with butter, fill the sandwich with the cheese paddles and a layer of leeks. Toast in a toasted sandwich maker or fry on both sides over a low heat so that the cheese melts as the bread browns. I like to press the sandwiches gently with a fish slice so that the cheese oozes out and fries crisp and golden on the bottom. Cut into halves and serve with a green salad, or into small squares, if you have a crowd to feed.

Tip – Any leftover cheese mix lasts well in the fridge for a week and freezes brilliantly. It is also delicious spiked with either a tablespoon of chipotles en adobo or Thai chilli jam so experiment with your chillies! For meat lovers, take out the leeks and add some slices of prosciutto or cured ham instead.


© Thomasina Miers.  Recipe taken from Chilli Notes by Thomasina Miers (Hodder & Stoughton £25)

Related Recipes