For a root known for its pungency it is interesting to note that in this state it has no aroma - that only develops when you break the fibers, either by cutting or grating. Once grated, it needs to be used quickly as the pungency disappears over time and is replaced by a bitter flavour.
I consulted "The Flavour Thesaurus" by Niki Segnit to find out what ingredients are best partnered with horseradish and found that they are apple, bacon, beef, beetroot, celery, oily fish, oyster, pea, potato, smoked fish, tomato and white fish.
The dish I've made, which is perfect for Good Friday, uses a couple of those ingredients - smoked haddock and potato.
The smoked haddock is first poached in milk and then flaked to be used in the filling along with leek, sweet corn kernels and cavolo nero and it's bound in a bechamel sauce made for the leftover poaching milk. It is then topped with slightly cheesy mash spiked with freshly grated horseradish to give it a bit of a kick.
1 smoked haddock fillet
For the Filling
1 leek, finely sliced
1 bunch cavolo nero, boiled until tender, sliced
250 grams corn kernels
For the Mash
4 Nicola Potatoes
freshly grated horseradish
For the Bechamel
50 grams cornflour
50 grams butter
salt and pepper
Prepare the Smoked Haddock:
Cut the fillet into even sized pieces - place in a pot and generously cover with milk. Place the pot on a low heat and poach until the haddock is tender. Remove the haddock from the pot, strain the milk but keep it to one side as it will be used in the bechamel.
Remove the skin from the haddock and all the bones and then flake into bite sized pieces - set to one side.
Make the Bechamel:
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, add in the cornflour and stir well until smooth. Pour in about ½ cup of the reserved milk and whisk to remove any lumps. As soon as it has thickened add in another ½ cup of the reserved milk. Continue whisking and repeated the process.
You may find that you either won't need to add all the reserved milk or you will have to add extra milk, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you have to cook out the flour and the sauce needs to be thick enough to bind the ingredients.
Prepare the filling:
Heat a drizzle of olive oil and a knob of butter in a skillet over a low heat - when the butter has melted add in the finely sliced leeks. Sauté gently until just softened and then add in prepared cavolo nero and corn kernels. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the kernels have just started to soften. Scoop the filling onto paper towels to remove any excess oil/butter and then add them to the prepared bechamel. Stir them through and then add in the flaked haddock - carefully fold them through so not to break the pieces of fish up.
Make the Horseradish Mash:
Boil the potatoes until tender, peel and then put them through a potato ricer. Stir through knobs of butter and a little grated parmesan, this will help form the crust on the potatoes when they are baked. Add as much or as little grated horseradish to the mash as you desire. Remember that its pungency will dissipate with time so make it a little hotter than you would normally have it. For this reason it's best to make the horseradish mash when you are ready to bake the pie.
Assemble the dish:
Spoon the filling into either one baking dish or 4 individual pie tins, flatten the surface but don't compress the mixture. Spoon or pipe the horseradish mash over the filling.
Bake in a preheated 170°C oven until the topping is golden and the filling is warmed through.
Serve with a simple green salad and some good crusty bread.
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