Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Herb of the Week and Year -- Horseradish, part 2

The International Herb Association and the National Herb Society announced that Horseradish will be the 2011 Herb of the Year.  There is much unknown about Horseradish (which many people shy away from because if its strong flavor,) so I decided to dedicate two weeks to discussing its use, growth and helpful properties.

This is week two of  Herb of the Week -- Horseradish!

History, part 2
Last week I gave a brief history of the plant, this time I will share a few more historical tidbits.Click here to read last week's post.
Horseradish has been cultivated since antiquity. According to Greek mythology, the Delphic Oracle told Apollo that the horseradish was worth its weight in gold. Horseradish was 0known in Egypt in 1500 BC. Dioscordes listed horseradish under Thlaspi or Persicon; Cato discusses the plant in his treatises on agriculture, and a mural in Pompeii showing the plant has survived until today. Horseradish is probably the plant mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History under the name of Amoracia, and recommended by him for its medicinal qualities, and possibly the Wild Radish, or raphanos agrios of the Greek. The early Renaissance herbalist John Gerard showed it under Raphanus.
Both root and leaves were used as a medicine during the Middle Ages and the root was used as a condiment on meats in Germany, Scandinavia, and Britain. It was taken to North America during Colonial times.
William Turner mentions horseradish as Red Cole in his "Herbal" (1551–1568), but not as a condiment. In "The Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes" (1597), John Gerard describes it under the name of raphanus rusticanus, stating that it occurs wild in several parts of England. After referring to its medicinal uses, he says: "the Horse Radish stamped with a little vinegar put thereto, is commonly used among the Germans for sauce to eat fish with and such like meates as we do mustarde."
Where the English name horseradish comes from is not certain. It may derive by misinterpretation of the German Meerrettich as mare radish. Some think it is because of the coarseness of the root. In Europe the common version is that it refers to the old method of processing the root called "hoofing". Horses were used to stamp the root tender before grating it.

Culinary Uses, part 2

Prepared horseradish is the grated root mixed with vinegar.  Horseradish sauce is made by blending the prepared horseradish with cream or mayonnaise. In the USA, prepared horseradish is a common ingredient in Bloody Mary cocktails and in cocktail sauce for seafood.  It is also used as a sauce or spread on meat, chicken, and fish, and in sandwiches.  Last week (to see the other post click here) I explained how to prepare Horseradish, this week I thought I would mention some special places Horseradish is used with food.
In Middle and Eastern Europe horseradish is called khreyn (in various spellings) in many Slavic languages, in German in Austria and parts of Germany, and in Yiddish. There are two varieties of khreyn. "Red" khreyn is mixed with red beet (beetroot) and "white" khreyn contains no beet. It is popular in Ukraine (under the name of хрін, khrin), in Poland (under the name of chrzan).
Having this on the Easter table is a part of Christian Easter and Jewish Passover tradition in Eastern and Central Europe.  In Ashkanazi European Jewish cooking beet horseradish is commonly served with Gefilte fish. Red beet with horseradish is also used as a salad served with lamb dishes at Easter in Romanian regions.
Horseradish (often grated and mixed with cream, hard-boiled eggs, or apples) is also a traditional Easter dish in Slovenia and in the adjacent Italian regions.
Even in Japan, horseradish dyed green is often substituted for the more expensive wasabi traditionally served with sushi. The Japanese botanical name for horseradish is seiyōwasabi or "Western wasabi".

Medicinal uses
Horseradish contains potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, along with volatile oils, such as mustard oil (which has antibacterial properties.) Fresh, the plant contains average 79.31 mg of vitamin C per 100 g of raw horseradish.
Known to have diuretic properties, the roots have been used to treat various minor health problems, including urinary tract infections, bronchitis, sinus congestion, ingrown toenails and coughs. Compounds found in horseradish have been found to kill some bacterial strains.  It is currently being used in microbiology as a way of preserving study slides.
If you don't have access to a garden plant, you can often find the roots at markets such as Whole Foods. Homemade prepared horseradish is about twice as strong as store-bought versions, and lasts about 4 to 6 weeks in the refrigerator.

Recipes to Try
 (I went a bit overboard but worth scrolling all the way to the bottom for the sauces)

Bloody Mary on Horseback
1 oz. Vodka
Lemon pepper
1/2 tsp. grated or prepared Horseradish
1 tsp. A-1 sauce
Lime wedge
Celery seed
Tomato juice
Place ice in a shaker, sprinkle lemon pepper, celery seed, horseradish (use more if more heat is desired), A-1 sauce and vodka over the ice. Fill with chilled tomato juice, shake vigorously to blend and pour into a chilled mug. Add a squeeze of fresh lime juice and garnish with celery stick, chilled cooked shrimp, pickled mushroom or whatever you desire.

Horseradish Potato Salad
Serves: 6
Fennel, horseradish, and mustard lend interesting flavors to red potato salad tossed in a creamy vinaigrette. Plan on 1 hour refrigeration time.

2 pounds red new potatoes, cut into eighths
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons sour cream
1-1/2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
1-1/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish or horseradish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 pounds fresh fennel or celery, trimmed and diced (about 3 cups)
1/2 bunch green onions (about 3), trimmed and thinly sliced

Cook potatoes in boiling lightly salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain; refrigerate 1 hour.  Whisk olive oil, wine vinegar, garlic, sour cream, mustard, horseradish, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.  When potatoes are cool, add dressing along with fennel and green onions. Toss to combine.

Potato Cakes and Horse Radish
Serves 4 to 6
Fresh horseradish gives extra zing to potato cakes seasoned with chives and served with sour cream. These are not overly spicy because the cooking process mellows out the horseradish.

3 baking potatoes, scrubbed clean
1 medium onion, grated
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tbls. finely grated fresh horseradish (use a microplane for better consistence and less clean up)
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1/4 cup chopped fresh chopped chives
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
6 Tbls. vegetable or olive oil
2 Tbls. butter
Salt to taste
Sour cream for accompaniment

Boil whole potatoes for 5 minutes. Let cool, peel, and coarsely grate. Toss grated potatoes, onions, and flour in a large bowl to mix well. Stir in eggs, horseradish, lemon zest, chives, salt, and pepper until well-combined.  Heat olive oil and butter in a large, heavy non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of mixture into the hot oil for each cake. Fry about 4 minutes on each side until nicely browned. Drain on paper towels. (You will need to fry the potato pancakes in batches.)  Season cakes with additional salt, if desired, and serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Buttered Horseradish Mostly Mashed Potatoes
Serves: 4- 6
4 Lg. Yukon Gold potatoes, skins on and cut into bite sized chunks
4 Tbsp. prepared horseradish
4 Tbsp. sour cream
1/3  cup milk
5 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. each of:  onion powder, garlic powder and dried onion
½ Tbsp. oregano
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Place potatoes in water and boil until soft.  Drain.  Place in large mixing bowl.  Add all other ingredients.  Mash contents in bowl together with masher or heavy duty mixer until well combined and potatoes are mostly mashed.  For even better version: top with cheddar cheese and put until hot broiler until cheese starts to bubble.

Flat Horse Chicken
Serves: 4 to 6

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or cutlets or boneless, skinless thighs)
2 Tbsp. white prepared horseradish
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp. orange juice
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 more Tbsp. of unsalted butter (very cold)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Pound the chicken to ¼-inch in thickness.  Season with salt and pepper.  Melt 2 Tbsp. of butter in a frying pan large enough to hold all the chicken.  Add the olive oil.  Sauté chicken on medium high heat on both sides, 3 minutes per side.  Remove from frying pan and place on a serving dish.  To the frying pan, add orange juice, balsamic vinegar and horseradish and turn the heat up till sauce bubbles.  Turn the heat down to medium and add the very cold butter.  Stir constantly till the sauce becomes velvety.  Return the chicken to the pan to heat, about 2 minutes per side. 

Great Meatloaf

2 lbs. ground chuck (or a combination of beef and pork)
2 egg whites (slightly beaten)
1 c. bread crumbs
1/4 c. chopped onion
1/4 c. milk
2 tsp. prepared horseradish or horseradish sauce
1 tsp. dry mustard
3/4 c. ketchup

Combine all ingredients but meat in a medium bowl.  Then add bread crumb mixture to mean and mix thoroughly (using hands works best.)  Form into a loaf.  Bake in foil-line loaf pan in oven at 350 degrees for one hour. You can substitute ground turkey/chicken for ground meat or use skim milk instead of whole milk.

Ham and Horseradish Stromboli
Serves: 4-6

1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed and risen
¼  lb. Deli ham
¼  lb. Swiss cheese
3 Tbsp. Mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. Prepared Horseradish
Salt and pepper to taste
Punch dough down. On a lightly floured surface, roll loaf into a 20" by 8" rectangle. Place the rectangle on a greased baking sheet. Combine mayonnaise and horseradish and spread in a strip down the center of the rectangle. Layer on ham and Swiss cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Fold long sides of dough up towards filling and pinch ends to seal. Bake at 350ºF for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Horseradish Crusted Salmon
Serves: 4
4 6-9 oz. Salmon fillets, no skin
1/2 cup freshly grated horseradish
12 Small Red bliss potatoes
8 Broccoli spears
2 Medium Sprigs of rosemary

Bring a pot of water to a boil, lightly salt the water. Boil potatoes until tender. Remove. In a separate pot, bring water to a boil and blanch broccoli. Shock in ice water. Reserve. Mince rosemary leaves, not stems. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Top each salmon fillet with freshly grated horseradish. In a hot sauté pan, sauté both sides of salmon, starting with the horseradish side down first. Transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet and cook in a 350º preheated oven until done, approximately 10 minutes. While salmon is resting, place potatoes on a lightly oiled baking sheet, season potatoes with butter, minced rosemary and salt and pepper. Bake for a few minutes to heat up and melt butter. Cook broccoli in boiling water until tender. On a warm plate, arrange 3 potatoes and broccoli in the center. Place the warm salmon on top with horseradish facing up.

Horseradish Sauce for Meat
Makes 1 2/3 cups
This heavenly horseradish sauce goes great with roasted fish, beef, and chicken.

1/4 cup drained prepared horseradish
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
1 Tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Keep warm.

To make the horseradish puree: Place the horseradish, vinegar, and cream in a blender. Puree until smooth, stopping from time to time to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Scrape into a bowl and reserve.  

Place the egg yolks in a slightly larger non-reactive saucepan. Whisk in the water and the salt. Place over medium-low heat. Slowly pour the warm butter into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. After all the butter has been incorporated, continue whisking approximately 3 to 5 minutes over the heat, until the sauce is light and fluffy and has almost doubled in volume. Remove from heat and continue whisking until the sauce is skin temperature.

Whisk in the reserved horseradish puree. Serve immediately. Good with roasted fish, beef, and chicken.

Creamed Horseradish Sauce Dip
Makes ¾ cup
For me, creamed horseradish sauce is a must with prime rib or any rare roast beef. If you don't like your horseradish too hot, make the sauce a couple of days in advance and refrigerate. Horseradish loses its punch with age. Prepared bottled horseradish doesn't work as well due to the vinegar. This version is a copycat version of the tiger dill sauce served at Outback Steakhouse restaurants.

1/2 cup fresh grated horseradish
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dill weed

Place grated horseradish, heavy cream, and salt into the bowl of a small food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until thickened to the consistency of stiff whipped cream. (Do not over-beat or you will end up with butter.)  Scrape into a bowl and fold in dill weed. Refrigerate at least two hours or overnight to let flavors meld. 

If you want to make a quick spread or dip, the Backyard Patch has two herb mixes you can try!  Click here to view them.


  1. While it may only put off a hangover, a bloody Mary is darned tasty the morning after. Adding horseradish is purported to alleviate headache and nausea. It SEEMED to help me, but that could be psychological-either way. . . Here are some great Bloody Mary Recipes


  2. My hubby swears by a good spicy Bloody Mary as a morning beverage on long weekends! He makes his with tobasco as well as horseradish.


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