No, it’s not a spelling mistake. This is the Polish word for horseradish, but my family used it to mean a dish with beets and horseradish. Chrzan is always a family favorite for Easter morning, served with fresh cooked Polish sausage (not smoked, but fresh or white kielbasa – find a Polish deli in your area), scrambled eggs, and homemade bread with rich butter. My father would always serve a little champagne as well. Somehow we have not kept up the champagne tradition but the bubbly with all of this is a great combination. As my brother Mark used to say, you need the fizz!
This is for you, Julie!
Julie is one of my nieces who made a special request for this recipe and I must tell you, I have a brand new great niece, Morgan, just born on the 27th! Food traditions are wonderful. I hope all you girls keep them up!
Now we all like this a bit hot. Actually the hotter the horseradish, the better. Everyone likes to nearly cry with their nostrils flaring, but these days, it’s hard to find really great horseradish. If you can find some Polish imports, those are best. Horseradish from Poland is a really pristine white, so pretty, not like the Gold’s you can readily find here. Ba-Tempte is another horseradish manufacturer from Brooklyn that is definitely acceptable.
Of course, it’s always about the ingredients. Get the best that you can and it’s best to roast your own beets and slice them thinly on a hand mandolin. Although my mother always used canned whole red beets and sliced them thin with a knife.
Here’s the recipe:
One bunch of red beets, scrubbed, dried, sprinkled with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, wrapped in aluminum foil and roasted at 400° for about an hour, until very tender when pierced with a skewer
OR one can of whole plain red beets, drained (not pickled)
2 tbs. sugar
1 tbs. white wine vinegar or plain white vinegar
Pinch of salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 jar of horseradish
If using fresh roasted red beets, peel them while still warm. Slice the beets very thinly, preferably on a hand mandolin. Sprinkle on the sugar, vinegar and salt. Toss carefully to combine (don’t break up your beautiful slices) and cover with a plate and let sit at room temperature for one hour. Drain the juice and save. Add the horseradish to taste (I usually add the whole jar) and toss carefully to combine. If you feel it’s dry, add back in some of the juice you saved, although I never do.