Thursday, April 7, 2016

Easy Entertaining with Horsey Sauce

Horseradish is the spicy root of the Armoracia rusticana plant, a member of the mustard family. When peeled and grated, it releases a chemical similar to mustard oil, causing nasal irritation and a pleasant bitter taste. For centuries, it has been prized for its medicinal and gastronomic qualities. Early Greeks used it to relieve back pain and as an aphrodisiac. It has also been used to treat coughs, rheumatism, and tuberculosis. Native Americans used to apply freshly grated horseradish to cure headaches. 

During the Renaissance, horseradish consumption spread from Central Europe northward to Scandinavia and eventually to England. By the late 1600s, horseradish was the preferred condiment to beef and oysters by all Englishmen. It was also commonly used by inns and coach stations, who made cordials with it to revive weary travelers. It was brought to North America by early settlers in the colonies. By 1806, it was common in the northeast. Commercial cultivation in America began in the 1850s. Today, southwestern Illinois grows 85% of the world's horseradish! There is even an International Horseradish Festival in Collinsville, Illinois each June, complete with recipe contests, live music, and games such as root toss, root golf, and even a root stacking contest!

Horseradish and beef are best friends. They compliment each other beautifully. One of my favorite recipes starring this dynamic duo is from the Culinary Institute of America for "Grilled Steak Salad with Horseradish Dressing." This lovely main course salad is super simple, making it perfect for casual entertaining. I serve it with bread and a bottle of Merlot or red blend. Try it and I promise you will add to your regular dinner rotation! FYI: If you have any leftover dressing, it's great on sandwiches!

Grilled Steak Salad with Horseradish Dressing

Serves 6

For the Horseradish Dressing
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoons prepared horseradish (Sold in the refrigerated section of your grocer.)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt (I use 1/4 teaspoon) and freshly ground black pepper (I use 1/8 teaspoon), to taste

For the Romaine and Blue Cheese Salad
6 cups romaine lettuce, washed and drained, cut into bite-size pieces
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2/3 cups crumbled blue cheese (I prefer Roquefort.)
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

For the Grilled Steak
1 1/2 pound flank steak
Drizzle of canola or olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

In a small bowl, mix together the sour cream, mayonnaise, horseradish, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Can be made ahead, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Place the lettuce, tomatoes, and half the cheese in a salad bowl, sprinkle with lemon zest, and set aside. Can be assembled up to 2 hours, refrigerated before serving.

Preheat gas grill to medium-high. If you are using a charcoal grill, build a fire and let it burn down until the coals are glowing red with a coating of white ash. Spread the coals in an even bed. Clean the cooking grate.

Drizzle the steak with oil and rub to coat evenly. Season generously with salt and black pepper. Grill the steak to the desired doneness, approximately 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare.

While the steak is grilling, toss the salad with the horseradish dressing and place on a large platter or individual plates. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest 3 minutes. Carve the steak across the grain and at an angle into thin slices. Arrange the steak slices on the salad, top with the onion slices and the remaining cheese, and serve.

Thanks to for some of the facts in this post.

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