Illinois Horseradish

Q: While eating out with my husband a few weeks ago, we had a wonderful, thick slice of prime rib at one of our favorite restaurants. My husband, as usual, smothered it in horseradish cream. It made me think that other than cocktail sauce, what else is horseradish used for? I’ve seen the fresh roots at the store, but never had the courage to try and cook with it. Can you give me some ideas?

A: While most people know horseradish only in the grated form from a jar, fresh horseradish root can be used in so many ways. In contrast to its name, horseradish is not a radish, and definitely has nothing to do with horses. Some think the name came from the English translation of the German word, ‘meerrettich,’ which means sea radish.

Horseradish is related to cabbages and mustard greens. With its pungent flavor and distinct heat, you may have wondered if it had anything to do with the Japanese wasabi you get when you order sushi. Good wasabi is made from a native Japanese root that is a cousin to horseradish, but it is expensive to cultivate. For this reason, green coloring is added to horseradish to make commercial wasabi.

Did you know? Collinsville, Ill., is considered to be the horseradish capital of the world. The city will hold its horseradish festival May 31 to June 2. This is a great way to see and taste this horse of a different flavor. I have two recipes that will show you its diversity, and hopefully give you some ideas to play in your kitchen.

Horseradish Country Fried Steak

2-4 oz. portions beef tenderloin                          

1 clove garlic, crushed                                   

1 ½ t horseradish, grated

1 c all-purpose flour

½ t salt                                   

1 ½ t black pepper                              

1 t smoked paprika                             

1 cup milk                                          

2 eggs, beaten                        

4 T butter                                           

For white gravy:

½ cup Italian sausage

3 T onion, diced                                 

½ cup all-purpose flour

2 ½ cups milk                         


Add garlic and horseradish to milk in a glass bowl. Add steaks and marinate for 45 minutes. While steaks are marinating, add dry ingredients to flour mixture. Set up a standard breading station with the beaten eggs and the flour mixture.

When steaks are ready, heat your frying pan to medium-high; add butter. When butter is hot, dip steaks in egg and then dredge in flour mixture to create an even coating. Repeat. Place breaded steaks into hot pan and brown on both sides. Remove from pan and place on paper towels to remove excess butter.

While pan is still hot, add breakfast sausage and onions. Cook until sausage in brown. Reduce heat to low, add flour, and stir constantly until flour is cooked (about 4 to 5 minutes). The flour will start to have a nutty aroma. Add milk and let simmer for about 10 minutes until sauce is thick. If it is too thick, add water until you have the desired thickness. 

I like to serve mine over roasted potatoes and carrots that have been seasoned with salt and black pepper.  


Pickled Horseradish

4 cups horseradish, thinly sliced

¾ cup white vinegar               

2 T sugar                                            

3 T pickling spice                               

½ t salt                                               


Place all items except for the horseradish in a pot. Bring to a slow boil. Clean horseradish well with warm water, and use a small brush to remove all dirt. When liquid is ready, slice the horseradish with the skin until you have four cups. Place in a bowl and pour the hot liquid over the horseradish and let cool. Refrigerate for an hour.

Note: Horseradish will get hotter the longer it sits after cutting. To control the amount of heat, do not cut the horseradish ahead of time for this recipe—I want the flavor without the intense heat. This pickled horseradish is great on a steak sandwich or as an accent for the country fried steak.

If you have any questions or need a little help, let me know. Email me at

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