Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Lighter Side of Křenovou Pěnou (Horseradish Cream), an UnRecipe Recipe

In Prague last year, my husband (Poppa Trix) and I became addicted to a relatively simple dish: Prague ham with horseradish cream. This has proven to be a bit of a problem for two reasons: 1. Until recently, we despaired of finding a fair approximation for Prague ham in these parts, and 2. What with the cream cheese and whipped heavy cream, that horseradish cream is seriously fattening. Not that I usually obsess about that sort of thing, but ... I can't stop eating the stuff. Completely powerless.

The first problem was solved by a discovery I made at the recent Fancy Foods Show in DC. While nibbling on some delicious pork products at the Principe de San Daniele booth, one in particular reminded me of the papery-thin, perfectly (lightly) salted slices of cured goodness we had in Prague. No coincidence, as it turned out. The company rep told me that Principe is located in Trieste, which was once part of the Austro- Hungarian Empire, and is in fact the world's main producer of Prague ham. In the U.S., it's known as beech wood smoked ham. Score!

And now to solve the problem of the calorie bomb that is horseradish cream. I began with this very strong, very fresh Austrian horseradish, which I acquired at what turned out to be the fabulously inspiring Fancy Food Show:
Look at those happy Austrians.
Rather than cream cheese, I used quark, a light and tangy European white cheese, and in place of gobs of whipped heavy cream, I used a sparing amount of creme fraiche for a touch of sweetness. The proportions were roughly 8 ounces of quark, a few tablespoons of creme fraiche, and 5 or 6 very healthy handfuls of grated horseradish.

The result? In flavor, this was very like what I enjoyed in Prague, but a bit thinner and less fluffy, due to the lack of whipped heavy cream. That's a compromise I'm willing to accept, although making schinkenrolle like we had in Vienna was admittedly a bit tougher with my version, as you can see the horseradish cream beginning to spread out of its hammy confines:
Perhaps if I wake up 10 pounds thinner someday (it could happen) I will make myself a small trough of the cream cheese and heavy cream version, but until that day, this is a satisfying alternative in its own right.





15 comments:

  1. I wouldn't eat this. Truth be told, I'm not a big fan of horseradish. But everything inside hammy confines has a certain appeal. Maybe if I were actually IN Prague?

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    1. Too bad! Maybe you've never had fresh horseradish? It's totally different from what you may be used to. I am sure you would love it if you were in Prague.

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  2. Now this is pure Mitteleuropa! I remember back when I was living in Vienna I went to a diplomatic reception where they served Prague ham. Spent the whole evening (well, almost) gorging myself...

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  3. Give in! Give in! It sounds delicious.

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  4. oh wow, this does look really good!

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  5. I love these simple recipes! My dad is a horseradish fanatic...I know he'd love this!

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  6. Oh goodness I'd be eating tons of it myself. Your version sounds wonderful. Have you tried FAGE Greek Yogurt, Total 0%, it could be a fat free alternative? I find it tastes like sour cream to me and it has no fat. I love the stuff.

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  7. Absolutely love, love, love horseradish [this said after just finishing a special corn beef lunch with a moreish horseradish sauce :) !]. Have to laugh at Frank: yes, this is pure Mitteleuropa [so sayeth this gal born in Estonia up north!] and say 'thank you' to Vicki B about the Greek yogurt: shall try!!!

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  8. This looks so delish inside the ham - and I am all for reducing the calories.

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  9. You did a fantastic job Trixie! I've never attempted because as you know I can go out for some. Some day when I move again I'll have to try your recipe. Hmm... I might have to go out soon for some:)

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  10. Hi Trix, I agree with everyone, it looks delish inside the ham, wow, this combo could be dangerous sitting round in the fridge, waiting to be put together when the mood strikes;-)

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  11. This has my mouth watering. If only... if only... I'll just have to make this for someone to satisfy my craving :)

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  12. I love your quark and creme fraiche substitutions here, how delightfully refreshing! This looks so delicious!

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  13. In the Midwest we love good ol' ham roll-ups (deli ham with cream cheese in the middle, perhaps with a pickle or a green onion). I wonder if the recipe is rooted in your delicious Prague version? Your pictures make me want to pounds and pounds of the stuff. Mouth-watering.

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