About a million years ago, long before I ever thought I would write a blog, let alone a book, I was invited to a friend’s home for Passover. Jean had a family, two kids, a dog, a house and school pickups and all those other things that I, single girl, city dweller, didn’t even have on my radar screen.
The dinner was sensational. The foods, some traditional and familiar to me, others new experiences. The dinner was better than any I ever had at my grandmother’s table (sorry, Gran). (Except maybe the chopped liver because that was my grandmother’s God-given gift: the lightest chopped liver in the world. Sorry, Jean.)
Jean served a black radish spread/condiment before the meal, alongside the chopped liver. I couldn’t get enough of it. And for years, it haunted me. I wanted to make it but I couldn’t find black radishes anyway so the desire would come and go.
This year, Bending Bridge Farm had black radishes at the market and that did it. I started researching, reading many stories of radish and schmaltz. Take that, you radish and butter people. I’m upping the ante.
Why I never looked into my grandmother’s recipe cards is a mystery to me, but until I researched the yiddish, I wouldn’t have looked twice at a scrawled index card with the title “Retachlict”. Radish. And a few notes. 2 radish, 1 sm onion grate + salt. Squeeze. and 2 spons (sic) schmaltz and pepper. Wait 2 days.
3 medium black radishes
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1/3 cup schmaltz or duck fat
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Peel and grate the radishes using a food processor, a mandolin to juilenne, or a box grater. Grate the onion. In a medium bowl, salt the mixture well and stir with your hands.
Place a dish in the bowl and weight it to press down on the radish. Let it sit on the counter for at least an hour or up to four hours.
Rinse the radish well and wrap in a tea towel. Squeeze with all your might to remove as much moisture as possible.’
Stir the radish onion mixture with the schmaltz. Taste and add plenty of salt and pepper and stir again. Pack firmly into the jars and refrigerate.
Let the dish sit at least two days, preferably four, before eating. Spread it on a piece of toasted rye. Top chopped liver. Try it on a meatloaf sandwich.