Chef Regina Mehallick uses horseradish to add zest to her creations
First used medicinally in ancient Egypt, horseradish became a staple in 17th-century England when it accompanied beef and oysters. Early settlers brought it to the American colonies where it was also discovered wild near Boston. Today, approximately 6 million gallons of prepared horseradish are produced annually in the United States.
Nearly half the supply of horseradish root comes from three counties in southwestern Illinois, the world’s most concentrated area of production.
Closer to home, The Herb Society of Central Indiana sought recipes from regional culinary artists for a 2011 horseradish cookbook. Regina Mehallick, R Bistro chef and owner, jumped at the chance to contribute to the project.
The herb was very familiar to Mehallick, as her dad had a horseradish patch in their garden while she was growing up.
“My dad would harvest, peel and hand-grate all of it to mix with vinegar to preserve it.
“There was just something about picking it only in months ending in ‘r.’”
An apt accompaniment
At R Bistro, Mehallick has mixed horseradish with tomatillos, lemon juice and vegetable stock to make a sauce for her clambake.
The horseradish brings just the right element to the dish, Mehallick says.
Find fresh horseradish root in the produce section at a local grocer to add just the right zip to dishes. Peel the outside of the root and grate it with a zester or box grater.
This versatile herb can be mixed with mustard and mayonnaise to add zest to sandwiches. Try it in appetizers, soups, salads, meat and seafood entrées, vegetables, breads, sauces –– and even beverages and chocolate. It’s also a popular addition to Easter Sunday meals.
Chuck Roast with Horseradish, Corn Polenta and Roasted Carrots
Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 4-pound chuck roast
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil for searing
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
6 stalks of celery
3 onions, diced
1 head of garlic, cut in half
2 tablespoons butter
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish (sold in small glass jars or bottles in the refrigerated section of the supermarket)
1 cup red wine
1 cup water
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Make a mirepoix* by sauteing carrots, celery, onions, bayleaf and thyme.
Mix the flour, salt and pepper together and rub all sides of the chuck roast. Heat a large skillet and add oil. Brown on all sides.
Add mirepoix to bottom of roasting pan.
Rub horseradish over the entire seared roast and place in roasting pan; add red wine and water.
Cover with foil and place in oven. Slow roast for three hours. Then remove foil and continue to roast for one hour or until tender.
Remove chuck from pan and strain the liquid and vegetables. Use the liquid to make a light sauce for the roast by cooking to a reduction. Slice to serve.
(* French for combination)
Horseradish Crème Sauce
1⁄2 cups prepared horseradish
2 cups sour cream or crème fraiche
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients. Keep refrigerated.
Polenta with Corn
4 cups water
1 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups fresh corn kernels
Salt and pepper
Dash of heavy cream and butter
Bring the water and salt to boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk in cornmeal until fully incorporated. Simmer about 10 minutes. Add corn and continue cooking until polenta is creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste and finish with cream and butter.
3 pounds of baby carrots
Olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and peel carrots, quickly blanch, then toss in oil, salt and pepper. Place on a sheet pan in one layer and roast for 20 minutes until brown and tender.
To plate: Place polenta on plate, top with carrots and sliced roast. Drizzle with horseradish sauce.
Horseradish Trivia and Festival Fun
Located in southern Illinois, Collinsville and its surrounding area have an excellent climate and potash-rich soil –– ideal conditions for growing 60 percent of the world’s horseradish.
These conditions also blend together to stir up fun at the International Horseradish Festival June 1-3.
At the festival, enjoy root tossing (last year’s men’s winner tossed a root 167 feet), a derby car race in which competitors drive miniature cars built from the root, and a Bloody Mary contest.
> Horseradish is also known as “redcole” and “stingnose.”
> Horseradish was used to make horseradish ale in the 17th century.
> In the southern United States during the late 1800s, it was commonly believed that rubbing horseradish on one’s forehead would alleviate headaches. Although there is no scientific evidence that this method works, some people still swear by it even today.
> Finely ground horseradish produces more “heat” than coarsely ground horseradish.
> As horseradish ages, turning from white to brown, it loses much of its flavor and bite.
> Though the horseradish is cultivated primarily for its roots, the leafy shoots of the horseradish are also edible.
> Horseradish contains no fat and no cholesterol.
For more information, including horseradish trivia, log on horseradishfestival.net.