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In all the years I’ve been cooking, I have never roasted a prime rib. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was the expense, although I purchase tenderloins when they are on sale and have used the meat in many ways from Middle Eastern kabobs to Beef Wellington.

Local markets offered prime rib on sale at Christmastime this year, and, since we’ve saved a considerable amount on our food budget by growing our own vegetables and fruits and not eating out for several months, I decided this was the year to try my hand at fixing prime rib at home.

Prime rib is an extremely tender, juicy cut of beef with a bold flavor that needs little dressing up. We used some fresh herbs from the garden and a little salt and pepper. I learned that prime rib is one of the easiest and most delicious holiday entrées one can make.

The recipe I chose cooked the meat to perfection, but the element that sent the roast over the top was the fresh horseradish sauce my husband made to go with it.

One theory as to the reason horseradish is often paired with prime rib is that it cuts through the richness of the meat, plus there are elements in the horseradish that aid digestion.

Horseradish is a root vegetable known for its pungent taste. We have several patches of horseradish in our garden which we use in a number of Polish recipes.

The root is believed to have originated in Eastern Europe and has been used for medicinal purposes by many cultures for thousands of years. It contains certain compounds that are said to have antibacterial and anticancer benefits.

Studies have shown the volatile oil released when horseradish is cut or grated may fight bacteria like listeria, E. coli, staphylococcus, salmonella, and other bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses.

During the Middle Ages, horseradish was used as a cough expectorant and for the treatment of food poisoning.

One study indicated the oil in horseradish kills six types of oral bacteria. Another study found that it inhibited the growth of four types of fungi that can lead to nail infections.

When eaten, horseradish can cause a burning sensation in the nose and throat and, while scientific respiratory studies haven’t been done, horseradish has been used as a homeopathic remedy to relieve sinus and breathing problems.

With all of its benefits, I tried to find out if there were possible side effects. I found nothing conclusive, but that may be due to the fact that horseradish is used sparingly, since it is so pungent.

The horseradish sauce was the perfect garnish for the prime rib that had been cooked to perfection. In fact, we thought it was so good, my husband made a second batch that we used as a sandwich spread, and a dip for crackers and vegetables.

Commercially bottled horseradish is delicious and useful to have on hand, but, like many other foods, fresh and raw is better. Horseradish is easy to grow in this area, so you may want to consider setting aside a small section of garden space for this perennial root vegetable.

Besides roast beef, horseradish is good with pork, poultry, fish, potatoes, and beets.

Basic Mayonnaise Sauce

Ingredients:

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup dairy sour cream

1 to 2 teaspoons prepared brown mustard

1/2 to 1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar

Dash of salt

Dash of white pepper

Preparation:

Blend ingredients together with fork.

Horseradish Sauce

Ingredients:

1 cup basic mayonnaise sauce

2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish*

Preparation:

Blend ingredients together with a fork.

*4 or 5 tablespoons of commercial preserved horseradish can be substituted.

For questions about recipes or other information, contact Susan Maslowski at mudriverpottery@aol.com or go to metrokanawha.com. Susan also has a Farmer’s Table Facebook page.