Monday, March 23, 2009

Nash Holos recipe: Easter beets & horseradish

This delicious dish is traditionally served at Easter time with ham and kubasa and, in very well-to-do homes, roast suckling pig.

Judy and I both come from pioneer prairie stock, and our families always just called this relish грін (pronounced "hreen" or "horseradish"). Etymologically, it should be called буряки з хроном (buryaky z xromom) which translates as … you guessed it … beets and horseradish. (In some regions of Ukraine they call it цвікли (tsveeklу).

The amount of sugar and horseradish in this recipe may be varied to suit your taste, as may the vinegar.

Note: If you are brave enough to try and use your own freshly-grated horseradish, wear rubber gloves and make sure the room is well-ventilated! Horseradish is very strong and pungent, because of the volatile mustard oils that are released when it’s grated (yes, even in a food processor). You may want to grate the horseradish at the last minute, after you have all of the other ingredients ready, to minimize the amount of time the vapours are in the air.

To make about 8 cups of this yummy relish, you’ll need :
  • 10 to 12 medium-sized beets. Cut off the stems 1 inch above the beets and leave the roots intact. Wash the beets thoroughly and cook in boiling water until they are tender.
  • In another pot, combine 1 teaspoon salt, 2 cups white vinegar, and a cup of sugar (or more, if preferred... to bring out the flavour of the beets).
  • Tie up a tablespoon of pickling spices in some cheesecloth and add to the vinegar mixture. Bring to a boil, and turn to simmer until ready to use.
  • When the beets are tender, drain and cover with cold water. Slip off the peel and cut off the stems and roots. Grate the beets on a coarse grater.
  • Mix beets with one to two cups of freshly grated or storebought horseradish. (They usually come in glass jars of 125 ml ...which is half a cup.)
  • Remove the bag of spices and add the vinegar mixture to the beet mixture.
  • Mix thoroughly and pack into sterilized Mason jars. Seal and store in a cool place. Allow the relish to stand for 24 hours before using.

If you’re fasting for Lent, you don’t need to worry about doing a taste test. If it makes you cry while you’re making it, you will know you have an excellent batch of хрін!

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