Bryndzové Halušky is one of Slovakia’s most famous dishes. Halušky, little pasta dumplings made from grated potatoes and flour, are coated in a special cheese called Bryndza and topped with bacon. If that wasn’t hearty enough, the fat rendered from the bacon is also drizzled over the top for good measure. It is quite the comfort food before a long day of work. To complete the meal, serve the Bryndzové Halušky with Žinčica- a drink made from the leftover sheep’s milk whey of the Bryndza.
The potatoes need to be finely grated to mix easily with the flour to create small dumplings. I used the small-holed side of a cheese grater. I added an egg to the dough to help bring it together. Some recipes I came across included an egg. Others didn’t.
I used my spätzle maker (Haluškaren in Slovakia) to push the dough into the water. One thing I did notice was that it was a bit more messy with the addition of the grated potato. I can usually keep the dough contained in the press as I am grated the dough through the holes, but this time it would occasionally seep out the sides. If you don’t have a spätzle/halušky maker, you can also use a colander with large hole and push the dough through with a wooden spoon or spatula. A reader on another blog also mentioned using the backside of a large-holed flat cheese grater. If you are new to making these dumplings, test a little dough in the water before pushing the rest in. If it falls apart, then the dough needs a little more flour to help hold it together.
Bryndza is a type of sheep’s milk cheese popular in Slovakia. If you are in the area, it is best to get it fresh from raw sheep’s milk for the maximum health benefits. It is a lot more difficult to locate here in the United States, but a Bulgarian sheep’s milk feta can be used as an alternative. I was able to find this in larger grocery stores (Wegmans) with a specialty cheese section. If the taste is too strong for you, you can also mix the cheese with some softened cream cheese or sour cream. The amount in this recipe created a nice light coating. I have seen other recipes with a lot more of the creamy cheese sauce, so add more of the Bryndza/cream cheese to taste. You can also use cottage cheese to make Halusky s Tvarohom.
Bryndzové Halušky (Slovak Potato Dumplings with Sheep Cheese)
Adapted from Emperor’s Crumbs
2 cups peeled and finely grated potatoes
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces bryndza
6 strips thick-cut bacon, cut into small cubes
In a large bowl, combine the grated potatoes, flour, and salt. If the dough is too dry, mix in the egg to form a thick, loose dough. It should be wet enough to push through the large holes of a colander, but still keep its shape in the boiling water.
Place a large pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat has rendered and the bacon is lightly crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove the bacon from the pan.
While the bacon is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Reduce to a lightly rolling boil, around medium high heat. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to transfer some of the dough to the halušky maker. Scrape the dough into the boiling water. Stir the bottom lightly to unstick any dumplings. Once the dumplings float to the surface, after about 2 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and repeat with remaining dough.
Remove 1/4 cup of the still hot cooking water to a medium bowl. Add the cheese, stirring to melt into a creamy sauce. Add to the cooked halušky, tossing to coat. Serve immediately topped with the cooked bacon and drizzle a little of the rendered bacon fat over the top.