There’s nothing photogenic about horseradish. The leaves of the plant are large and coarse, the roots are gnarly and the grated root is a nondescript shade of pale. But what it lacks in appearance is more than compensated in its powerful punch.
In the same botanic family as broccoli, cabbage, wasabi and mustard, the fiery flavor of horseradish is concentrated in the root. When grated, enzymes produce allyl isothiocyanate (mustard oil), the chemical that makes horseradish so interesting.
Fresh horseradish root (called Meerrettich in German) is a tough customer to deal with. I can recall when I was young seeing my father, uncles and grandfather in my grandmother’s basement with scarves tied around their mouths and noses, eyes watering and choking as they grated the horseradish roots that my grandmother grew in her garden that she combined with vinegar, salt and sugar that would be served with holiday meals.
Basic “prepared” horseradish as it it sold in stores can be freshly made with the aid of a food processor. Fresh horseradish root is available in the produce department of most major supermarkets.
Basic Prepared Horseradish
8-10-inch long piece of horseradish root
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp white vinegar
½ tsp white sugar
Peel the root and chop into small chunks. Place in a bowl of a food processor with the water and process till a fine mash is formed…warning–stand back when opening the bowl of the food processor since it’s when the root is damaged that the gas is released. Add the vinegar, sugar and salt. Pulse again in the processor till well combined. Remove from the processor, place in a glass jar with a lid. Refrigerated, prepared horseradish will keep it’s heat for a couple of weeks. Great as is as a condiment with meat or added to salad dressings, dips and Bloody Mary cocktails.
My all time favorite holiday meal is a beef rib roast that I briefly dry age myself and roast to perfection and nothing goes better with it than this dressed up horseradish cream that also works well with ham, on baked potatoes and as a topping for chilled steamed broccoli.
Whipped Horseradish Cream
8 ounces cold heavy whipping cream
¼ cup sour cream
3-4 tablespoons prepared horseradish
few drops of white vinegar
pinch of sugar
2 very finely minced green onions (white part only)
In a cold bowl whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Fold in the sour cream, horseradish, vinegar, sugar and green onions. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt if desired. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate till serving time.