Spice Up Roast Beef with the Perfect Horseradish Sauce

Classic roast beef goes perfectly with a simple horseradish sauce you can make at home.Classic roast beef goes perfectly with a simple horseradish sauce you can make at home.By Lynne Curry

With its peculiar and overwhelming odor, horseradish is not universally beloved. But this crucifer's rousing scent and fiery flavor are precisely why some horseradish lovers go so far as to forage the wilds in search of feral horseradish plants so they can grind their own perfectly pungent horseradish sauce.

Armoracia rusticana is a weed that proliferates in back yards, fields, roadsides and homesteads throughout this country. Introduced from its native southern and eastern European roots by immigrants and adventuresome gardeners, the horseradish, once established, went feral and can now be found in the most unexpected and inhospitable places.

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Most people don't recognize the horseradish plant. Those who do often choose to ignore it. The reason for its disfavor isn't the fact that horseradish is misnamed; it is neither a food for equines nor a type of radish, but because it isn't a vegetable in the steamed, roasted or sautéed sense. Horseradish root, historically thought of as a medicine, traditionally present at seders to represent bitter herbs, is most widely used as a condiment -- particularly with a nice roast beef.

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Lean top round is one of the most underrated and economical roasts that stays perfectly juicy and tender when baked in a 300 F oven. Sirloin tip roast is another lean roast that makes an excellent slow-roasted roast beef, while bottom round roast (aka rump roast) must be very thinly sliced and still offers some chew.

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The horseradish sauce is adapted from a recipe in the 1883 cookbook and household manual, "The Successful Housekeeper." Mustard and sugar mellow the horseradish hit while mayonnaise adds creaminess. Smear it on slices of roast beef, hot or cold. To substitute prepared horseradish, omit the vinegar.

Slow-Roasted Beef With Horseradish Sauce

Serves 8, with leftovers

For the roast beef:

1½ tablespoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 (3½- to 4-pound) top round roast

For the horseradish sauce:

2 tablespoons fresh grated or prepared horseradish

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon mayonnaise

¼ teaspoon salt

2-3 tablespoons mild vinegar, such as apple cider or rice wine

Directions

1. Up to 48 hours in advance, season the beef with salt and pepper and put it on a rack in a roasting pan, fat side up. Refrigerate it uncovered until 1 hour before roasting.

2. Preheat the oven to 300 F. Roast until an internal-read thermometer reads 115 F, 1½ to 1¾ hours. Remove the roast if you like it very rare, or check the temperature every 10 minutes and remove it as soon as the center of the roast reaches 120 F for rare or 125 F for medium rare. Transfer the meat to a cutting board, tent it with aluminum foil, and let it rest for at least 20 minutes to reach its final serving temperature.

3. Meanwhile, combine the horseradish, mustard, sugar, mayonnaise and salt in a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the vinegar and stir to make a smooth sauce. Taste and add up to 1 tablespoon more vinegar if you like. Let stand for at least 15 minutes before serving to meld the flavors.

4. Slice the roast ¼-inch thick with a sharp slicing knife and serve with the horseradish sauce.

Photo: Feral horseradish. Credit: Emily Cooper

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Zester Daily contributor Lynne Curry is an independent writer based in the mountains of eastern Oregon. The author of "Pure Beef: An Essential Guide to Artisan Beef with Recipes for Every Cut" (Running Press, May, 2012), she also works as a private chef and blogs about rural life at www.ruraleating.com.

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