Some years ago I briefly discussed horseradish, and included a little discussion on how it got its name, and a recipe for sauce made from it. Horseradish belongs to the Brassica family, so is related to cabbage. Its well-known pungency derives from the mustard oil contained within the cells of the plant, especially the root. It seems that the plant is native to Central Europe, and has been cultivated and enjoyed since ancient times. It was known in England by the late sixteenth century, and by the mid-seventeenth century it was popular there as an accompaniment to beef and oysters. It was also popular as a restorative for those who were fatigued - especially in the form of horseradish ale, which our old friend Samuel Pepys refers to in his diary.
Horseradish is almost exclusively used in sauces or condiments:
Horse-Radish with Cream.
Grate some horse-radish, and stew it in some fat bouillon. Mix up, separately, three eggs with one gallon of fresh cream, a pinch of flour, and some salt; put the whole with the horse-radish; set the stewpan again on the fire, let it rise without boiling, and serve this sauce in a boat, or tureen, with roast meat. Chopped horse-radish, cooked in bouillon, and served with a small hors d'ceuvre, is more generally relished with the bouillie.
French Domestic Cookery (1846) , by Louis Eustache Audot [Section on German Cookery]
Horseradish is in highest perfection about November.
Pour a quart of best vinegar on three ounces of scraped horseradish, an ounce of minced eschalot, and one drachm of Cayenne; let it stand a week, and you will have an excellent relish for cold beef, salads, &c, costing scarcely any thing.
N.B. A portion of black pepper and mustard, celery or cress-seed, may be added to the above. 06s
The Cook’s Oracle (1827) by William Kitchiner
But, for those who are not faint-hearted, it can in fact be a top-billed player:
Duck or Teal with Horseradish.
You must truss them to boil, if two, lard one, and so pass them off in brown Butter; then put to them a Pint of clear Broth and two Plates full of Horse-radish; season with Salt, and stove these together till tender; then strain off your Horse-radish from your Ducks, and put in a good Piece of Butter; you may scrape your Horse-radish very fine, which is the best way then lay your Ducks in your Dish, and your Horse-radish all over, and garnish with scrap'd Horseradish and slic'd Lemon, and serve away hot.
The Compleat City and Country Cook (1732) by Charles Carter.
One of my mother's few party recipes was a rather yummy dish of small sausages, heated in a chafing dish in a mixture of half mayonnaise and half sour cream, with a tablespoonful or so of horseradish stirred into it.
It is surprisingly delicious. I am asked to bring it to potlucks at work fairly often.
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