What in the world did we do before Google? Remember in the olden days, when we’d have a question about something and had to dig around in the encyclopedia (or Encarta on the computer, for the high-tech folks), the dictionary or our own noggins to find the information we were looking for? Now when I’m unsure of a cooking conversion, the name of the actor in a movie I can’t remember or how to say, “Hooray for ice cream!” in Spanish, Google is my go-to. (I have, in a few moments of utter desperation, even asked Google what I should eat for lunch, to which a link to Yahoo Answers almost always responds with quesadilla. Go figure.)
Now I promise I have a reason for divulging my Google obsession today, and it all goes back to horseradish. As a general rule, I’m pretty open to most foods and flavors, and there are very few that land on my um-no-thanks-I’m-not-a-big-fan-of-that list. Horseradish, however, is one of those flavors. So I got to thinking about horseradish (because that’s a productive use of time around 10 o’clock at night, don’t you think?) and couldn’t land on a logical reason for my disliking of the poor, misunderstood perennial. So rather than wallow in my illogical tastes, I decided to do a little research with my trusty search engine leading the way. I started by googling “why is it called horseradish?” and found conflicting reports. Some sources say no one knows; some say it derived from a misinterpretation of the German name “meerrettich,” which means “sea radish,” as “mährrettich,” which means “mare radish;” and some say the name refers to the old-fashioned method of processing the plant, called “hoofing,” for which horses would stomp on the root until it was tender and ready for grating. I prefer the last of the three name stories — though I’m not sure I’d enjoy eating something that once served as a horse’s welcome mat.
It’s funny how knowing a little more about something, in this case a simple ingredient, makes you wildly more open to what it has to offer. I also learned through my googling that horseradish belongs to the same family as mustard (like), broccoli (love), cabbages (love, love) and wasabi (um, three out of four isn’t bad). Surely I could spare some love for the horseradish (which, as it so happens, is one of Jared’s all-time favorites). I started searching around on Food52 (they happened to be hosting a horseradish recipe contest a few weeks back) and landed on a recipe for dill and horseradish potato salad. The recipe itself had rave reviews, and I thought that my extreme love of dill might help mellow out my prior dis-love of the horseradish.
Lo and behold, ‘twas a success! It definitely helps that this recipe is super fresh and super easy to put together, but the flavor combo of the dill and horseradish has officially carved out a place in my heart for the little mährrettich to call home. No, I will not be coating my sandwiches or dipping my French fries in a slathering of prepared horseradish any time in the near future; I will, however, be actively seeking other recipes and combinations that allow my love to bloom.
Horseradish Dill Potato Salad
From thirschfeld on Food52.com
• 2 to 2 ½ pounds organic baby Yukon gold potatoes, rinsed and scrubbed
• kosher salt
• 1/4 cup buttermilk
• 1/3 cup mayonnaise
• 1 ½ tablespoon prepared horseradish
• 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
• 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
• freshly ground black pepper
Place the potatoes in a large pot and fill with cold water until potatoes are covered by at least an inch. Add 2 tablespoons of kosher salt to the water, and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the potato. When potatoes are done (a knife should slip in easily, with the potato still a bit firm near the center), drain then in a colander, and allow them to cool to room temperature.
In the meantime, whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, horseradish and green onions. When the potatoes are cool, quarter them lengthwise, add them to the dressing, and stir to coat. Taste and adjust the seasoning by adding fresh ground pepper and salt as needed. Keep covered in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve. Stir before serving.
So there you have it, the story of two new pals: Mr. (or Ms.) Horseradish and me. Thank you, Food52, for facilitating the start of a beautiful friendship.
Where do you stand with horseradish? Love it? Hate it? Do you have a story of newfound love when it comes to flavors or ingredients you used to avoid? Let’s hear it!