Imagine my surprise when I found a recipe with ‘monkey’ in the title. Sure, I’ve heard of monkey bread but never English Monkey. To my relief, I discovered the recipe did not contain any actual monkeys or other primates.
Like many old recipes, it just lists the ingredients and not much else. I decided to research this recipe as I wasn’t really sure what it made. The ingredients seemed reminiscent of a cheese fondue. It turns out that I wasn’t too far from the truth. English Monkey is a Welsh-American dish and is a modified version of Welsh Rarebit.
Rarebit (i.e. rabbit), or in this case our Monkey, is actually a savory sauce served hot over toasted/stale bread or crackers. The name originated during the 18th century as a slur on the poverty of the Welsh. In England, the poor man’s meat was rabbit while in Wales it was cheese. The name Welsh Rarebit implies a dig at the Welsh who were looked down upon at this time in history.
Personally, I pick cheese over rabbit (or monkey) any day!
1 cup cheese
1 cup milk
1 cup bread crumbs
small piece butter (~1 TB)
pepper and salt to taste
The recipe only states to cook in a double boiler. Many recipes say to soak the bread crumbs in the milk to soften them first (assuming you’re using stale bread). Heat the milk mixture and butter, stir in cheese to melt, then add the beaten egg. Cook for a few minutes and pour over toasted slices of bread or crackers.
In the upper right corner of the recipe is written, “Ma’s, It’s Good” It certainly sounds like it would be good. Other variations on this dish include the use of ale, mustard and even a pinch of cayenne.
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