On a breezy afternoon in Riverhead last week, Charlie Tesauro made a pit stop at Schmitt’s Family Farm on Sound Avenue to stock up on horseradish, his favorite spicy condiment.
“I love it with clams on the half shell, shrimp,” said the West Islip resident and Cambridge Paving Stones manager, who was on his way to a North Fork job site. “I would highly recommend it to anybody. It’s the best stuff I’ve ever tasted.”
Fourth-generation farmer Matt Schmitt, who tends five acres of horseradish at Schmitt’s Family Farm and has sold it under the label Holy Schmitt’s since 2010, said the root, which he grinds and then mixes with vinegar, had no problem surviving the unseasonably cold extended winter.
“It didn’t really grow but it got hearty,” he said. “We didn’t notice too much of a difference.”
Schmitt said he harvests the horseradish using “an old potato digger that has a small plow and kind of raises them up a bit.” The foot-long roots are then loaded onto a conveyor belt, which bounces them around and coaxes off the dirt. His mother, Debbie, said she believes customers love her family’s horseradish as much for its health benefits as for its flavor.
“It’s good for your metabolism and circulation and it has antioxidants in it,” she said. “And it’s not that hard to incorporate if you put a little bit in your sandwiches or vegetables.”
“Sometimes I’ll take a spoonful to clear out my sinuses,” he said. “I have allergies and it actually works very well.”
Here are a few horseradish recipes from the northforker staff.
Mashed potatoes with a kick
Ingredients: 3 to 5 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 cup milk
1 stick unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 teaspoons horseradish
Directions: Peel potatoes and boil in a pot of salted water until soft. Mash the potatoes with milk, butter, sour cream, salt, pepper and horseradish until blended.
“It’s subtle, but it gives them an extra zing.” — Karen Kine, receptionist
Prime rib and horseradish sauce
Directions: Mix a half-pint of heavy cream with two tablespoons horseradish and serve with prime rib.
“When you put it on roast beef or prime rib, it takes it to a whole new level.” — Barbaraellen Koch, staff photographer
Horseradish cheese spread
Ingredients: 1 container pub cheese
2 tablespoons real bacon bits
½ tablespoon horseradish
Directions: Mix all ingredients together and serve with crackers or chips.
“Super-easy recipe. Adjust horseradish amounts if you like more or less of a kick!” — Laura Huber, editorial assistant
This story was original published on April 8, 2015