Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Lowly Horseradish Root

It was one of those weeks.  Another birthday for me, and my thoughts always go back to my childhood.  I grew up in the most perfect place I could ever imagine.  My parents and grandparents were American born, but before that, my ancestors came from Germany and Russia.  Luckily, they all developed the settlement of the Amana Colonies, and from there forth, the traditions continued.

What I think about most, is the magnificent German food.  It was on the table every day of the week.  I did not know about casseroles or hot dishes.  That was fake cooking to these strong German women.  Go into the gardens and freeze and can and then cook from the larders.  We had magnificent butchers down the street and a small grocer that had everything we needed including a "beer room" in the back where my grandfather spent the last years of his life dispensing beer and stories.

We also had a wine cellar in the basement, as did so many of my neighbors.  They made their own rhubarb and grape wine.  This was so normal for all of us.  Do I miss it?  Absolutely!  Do I have great memories?  You betcha!!  And thus comes the post for today.

I have been watching horseradish roots in my local grocer for several weeks.  I was so tempted to buy, but remember my last episode with that strong root.  It was 1972.  We were living in Coldwater, Michigan, and my parents and mother-in-law came to help us out as our second child was born.  Mom and Dad brought a large horseradish root.  I am sure I requested it.  I recall being outside at the picnic table and they were grinding the root.  The smell was enough to search for a gas mask.  I also remember quickly going into the house and letting my mother take over.

Through the years afterward, whenever we visited my parents, I requested Gekochtemeerrittich.  To non-Germans, that would be cooked horseradish.  So, last week, seeing the horseradish at Fry's, I bought it, hoping for the best.

Luckily, my community produced several cookbooks through the years, preserving our inherited recipes.  And there it was!  Page 96 of  "Seasons of Plenty" and the recipe was submitted by my friend's mother, Linda Selzer.

The rest is history.  It was delicious!  I had invited a couple of friends that evening for dinner, and my dear friend, David, who grew up where I did, claimed he had not tasted it in 50 years, since his grandmother had cooked it for their family. We all enjoyed it and now, I want to share this recipe with you. I will say, if the horseradish root is very fresh, the result will be quite hot. As things go in the grocery world, I am sure this root had been refrigerated for some time, so it was rather mild. But, the flavor was still there.

In Austria, this is a typical dish served with Tafelspitz, which is a boiled beef.  I served it with a pot roast.  Serve with any roast beef.  I really hope you will try it.

Cooked Horseradish

1 cup raw, grated horseradish
8 tablespoons butter
1 cup soft grated breadcrumbs
6 tablespoons flour
4-5 cups beef broth

To grate horseradish:  Wash horseradish root and peel with a carrot peeler. Grate in a food processor with a small amount of water if it is too dry. Process a small amount at a time.

Melt butter in a large saucepan.  Add breadcrumbs and sauté lightly.  Stir in the flour and sauté a minute or so.  Add the processed horseradish and stir.  Slowly add beef stock.  Stir well and allow to boil 5 minutes.  Cook on medium to low heat until ready to serve.  Can be frozen and reheated.  


  1. I've never had horseradish on its own! Who knew? You did. I love its spicy addition to prime rib and cocktail sauce for seafood; but, I would never have imagined cooking it for a dish of its own. I'm trying to avoid the flour/bread items for now... but, I can tell I will need to try this one of these days. Curiosity will not let me do otherwise! So good to have a friend near who grew up in the same area. Shared meals with kindred souls feed more than our bellies. ;) blessings and hugs ~ tanna

  2. Happy Belated Birthday, Susan!
    The horseradish sounds great, Susan! Bill's family is German and I remember his grandmother making a similar dish. Your version sounds delicious, a perfect side dish!

  3. We've always served horse radish with beef, but never cooked. We add bread crumbs, sugar and cream, mix and let it sit a while before serving. I never touch the stuff, too strong for my taste buds... or perhaps I'm not German enough. (:

  4. I don't remember my grandparents making fresh horseradish but I do remember that my dad layered it on pork chops! Sounds like a cooking adventure...I am happy that it was a success for you!

  5. I remember something like this from our years in Germany. The Great Dane would be SO happy if this were to show up with a Sunday roast of beef or even pork.
    It was lovely to see your last two posts pop up and to catch up a wee bit with what you have been up to.

  6. Belated Happy Birthday, Susan!
    My mother's family came from Germany, but I never remember anyone making anything with fresh horseradish. Loved reading your post!

  7. At first I was a little worried that this might be a side dish :) But it would be perfect with pot roast. My German dad required there be some jarred horseradish in the fridge at all times. I know both he and my FIL would have loved your recipe!!!

  8. I remember the one time my Dad grated horseradish root in our kitchen. He wore the mask he used for swimming underwater, but tears were streaming out from under it! Such an odd memory. His parents were both born in Germany and came here in the 1870s. My grandfather was 96 before he stopped making his own dill pickles. He felt he wasn't getting the same results anymore, perhaps because his sense of smell was not what it had been. That was the year he stopped smoking the occasional cigar because he did not want to die young!