Thursday, February 11, 2016

Condiment of the Week - Horseradish Sauce

Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana, syn. Cochlearia armoracia) is a perennial plant of the Brassicaceae
family (which also includes mustard, wasabi, broccoli, and cabbage). It is a root vegetable used as a spice.

The plant is probably native to southeastern Europe and western Asia. It is now popular around the world. It grows up to 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) tall, and is cultivated primarily for its large, white, tapered root.

The intact horseradish root has hardly any aroma. When cut or grated, however, enzymes from the now-broken plant cells break down sinigrin (a glucosinolate) to produce allyl isothiocyanate (mustard oil), which irritates the mucous membranes of the sinuses and eyes. Grated mash should be used immediately or preserved in vinegar for best flavor. Once exposed to air or heat it will begin to lose its pungency, darken in color, and become unpleasantly bitter tasting over time.

Horseradish sauce made from grated horseradish root and vinegar is a popular condiment in the
United Kingdom and in Poland. In the UK it is usually served with roast beef, often as part of a traditional Sunday roast, but can be used in a number of other dishes also, including sandwiches or salads. A variation of horseradish sauce, which in some cases may substitute the vinegar with other products like lemon juice or citric acid, is known in Germany as Tafelmeerrettich. Also popular in the UK is Tewkesbury mustard, a blend of mustard and grated horseradish originating in medieval times and mentioned by Shakespeare (Falstaff says: "his wit's as thick as Tewkesbury Mustard" in Henry IV Part II. A very similar mustard, called Krensenf or Meerrettichsenf, is popular in Austria and parts of Eastern Germany. In France, sauce au raifort is popular in Alsatian cuisine.

In the U.S., the term "horseradish sauce" refers to grated horseradish combined with mayonnaise or salad dressing. Prepared horseradish is a common ingredient in Bloody Mary cocktails and in cocktail sauce, and is used as a sauce or sandwich spread. Horseradish cream is a mixture of horseradish and sour cream and is served alongside au jus for a prime rib dinner.

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