Lockdown lunches: coronavirus comfort food
The coronavirus crisis has left cities around the world in lockdown. With restaurants closed and millions indoors, we are going to have to get back to home-cooking. In the second in our series of cookery masterclasses, food writer Tim Hayward shows the FT's Daniel Garrahan how to make Welsh rarebit and the perfect American-style grilled cheese
Filmed by Lauren Juliff and Liberty Wright. Produced by Daniel Garrahan and Tim Hayward. Edited by Daniel Garrahan
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I give this to you. I want you to have this with my blessing.
In goes the mustard.
Oh yeah. Bread's a bit like toilet roll at the moment, isn't it? It's like gold dust, you've got to hunt the stuf down. I was lucky enough to get one of the cheapest loaves I could find. I almost got a sense that these were the kind of loaves that you tend to use in, in an American style grilled cheese?
Yeah, absolutely. It's got a reasonable sugar content, so it caramelises beautifully. Look, grilled cheese isn't supposed to be artsy. This thing we're doing here, this is like a freebie. I'm only doing this just to improve your life. This thing is better with a hangover, it's better with cheap cheese. You know how most great artists want to leave something for the future for posterity? I give this to you. I want you to have this with my blessing. And you can pass it onto your children in the fullness of time.
What sets it apart from a sort of typical toasted cheese sandwich? Because I've had grilled cheese when I've been to the States. And there's something almost a bit disgusting about it, which makes it so delicious.
It's all the things your body wants, it's fat, it's salt, it's dough, and it's all those things pointing to one place. But here we're going to improve it even better. So take your two slices of bread and grab your mayonnaise. Smear it on both pieces of bread. Heat up your pan.
Do I put any fat into the pan?
Oh, no, no, no, no, no.
It's much more exciting than that. This is absolutely the sandwich that can cure anything, a broken heart. Take a slice of bread, put it in the pan, mayonnaise side down.
Mayonnaise down on to the un-oiled pan.
Yep. Now, carefully put the cheese on top. And put the second piece of bread on top of that, mayonaise side up.
A bit of cheese overboard.
Doesn't matter, that's fine. Move the sandwich around to sort of pick up the leaky cheese.
So why mayonnaise on the outside of the bread rather than butter?
Basically, by using mayonnaise what you're doing is you're frying the bread the same as you would on a regular grilled cheese. But you're also having a kind of lovely delicious flavoured omelety thing to it as well.
I'm salivating thinking about this.
Yeah? Yeah, I told you, change your life. Flip it over and lick any remaining mayonnaise off your fingers.
Is this the classic American style? They always put their mayonnaise on the outside?
They don't always, but the good ones do.
And the cheese inside is looking gooey and delicious.
Move the sandwich around in the oils and fats and greasy bits. so it picks up the last bits.
It's looking like it might be done, the cheese is beautifully melted inside.
Put it onto a plate. If you want to, you can lift it out and put it on to some kitchen roll and dab the fat off it.
Oh no, goodness no, that would be a waste, wouldn't it?
If you do, we cannot be friends. That's it forever. All over, man. You are dead to me.
Oh, the cheese is starting to ooze out now.
Oh, it's a good feeling, isn't it? Onto a plate.
- Oh my goodness. The cheese is oozing out. So good.
You could also think of it like a steak. So you need it to rest for a little while as well, just for all the little bits inside it to sort of become promiscuous, as it were, and blend. And also, it's too bloody hot to put any of it in your mouth. Knife straight through. Look at that.
There it is.
Oh mate, that's just a thing of beauty.
Oh yeah. This is one of the sandwiches for one of those many long evenings we've got ahead of us. Maybe feeling a little bit blue about the months ahead in isolation, make one of these.
Somebody said the other day that they don't feel like keeping some of their older wines anymore. Life is too short to put these things off. I've got a bottle of Cote du Rhone I found at the bottom of the wine cellar, and I'm going to drink it with a grilled cheese sandwich next week.
We've got a little time coming up when we're going to have weird and random ingredients coming in, and quite a lot of time spent in the kitchen, I hope. And what's nice about something like bechemel is it's probably the first thing you'd learn at catering college. It's absolutely the simplest and most basic tool to play with. Add some milk to the basic paste and maybe some chicken stock and you've got premium chicken soup. If you add meat stock to it you've got a thick dark gravy. We're actually going to thicken some beer to make the basis of the sauce, which still have a lot of cheese in it as well. But you can then use to make a Welsh rarebit, which is a brilliant snack, a really, really easy thing. Quite a child pleaser, quite a crowd pleaser as well.
Stick that slice of bread in the toaster. Just go ahead, not too dark. A lump of butter here about the size of a tablespoon for a base.
Something like that?
No, smaller than that. Little smaller, half that. As that butter is melting, add to it, roughly, the same amount of flour. Combine the two together. I'm going to put a spot more butter in mine actually.
More butter is not going to hurt, is it?
What sort of smell are you getting off yours?
Good. Should I be adding more butter? Mine is starting to bubble up a little bit.
Nope, bubbling is good. Important thing here is to use a terrible, terrible chefy term is to cook out the flour.
How long would you cook out the flour for?
Until you get this kind of biscuity smell, really.
I'm getting it now, rich tea biscuits.
OK, so now open your beer.
This is all I had lying around, Newcastle Brown.
Class act. So it will easily bubble up and then go incredibly lumpy. So you add more beer and keep stirring each time.
So why beer? Why are we doing this with beer and not milk as I suspect people would do normally.
Because beer and cheese is an amazing and delicious combination.
Mine's got like scrambled eggs.
That's OK, keeps stirring.
Is that more like it?
Yeah, that's great. OK, stick a couple of teaspoons, at least, of English mustard in there.
I've got Dijon, is that OK?
Dijon will be absolutely fine. Add a big shot of Worcester sauce, topping your cheese. The other thing you can do that's really, really good with it is put it in baked potatoes. So this time, you can also add if you want to things like Tabasco, black pepper. You've got a kind of glue now, yeah? Now you taste it and see what else it needs. Mine needs more Worcester sauce.
I'm going to give mine an Indian twist. I can't recommend this stuff highly enough.
I've always wanted to lay this stuff out on grease proof paper and let it go cold. And you could slice it into squares the same as that really bad American burger cheese.
Oh wow, this would be the ultimate burger slice.
This Guinness - and I know it's the middle of the afternoon, but we're in lockdown, mate. It's going to be done.
It's almost like Christmas, isn't it? Being in lockdown, minus the seasonal cheer.
Let's mirror it on top. Right to the edge, but thicker and heavier in the middle. Oh some of it seems to have leaked onto my finger. Oh no. Mmm. Shove it under your grill.
Oh, I think I have saved it in the knick of time.
OK, I'm going to have to show you a trade secret here. Basically, you take a knife, don't cut it, just push down into the cheese on the top like this. No, like this. Watch. One, two, three. And then one, two, three. So you cross hatch the top with grooves. That gives you a place for the extra Worcester sauce to run in through the cheesy cover.
What do you think? I think this is the most beautiful thing.