I love bryndzové halušky – little dumplings with cheese. I already blogged about them when still living in Slovakia, but they are something I really miss from my homeland. They are pretty straightforward to make them, except that you need bryndza. Bryndza is sheep cheese, which looks like ricotta but with a distinctive sheepy tangy flavor. Since I’ve never found bryndza here, making this dish in the US seemed impossible until I came across Pecorino Romano in the infamous Trader Joe’s.
Pecorino is a sheep cheese, which looks very much like young Grana Padano. It had been a long time since I tasted it, and although Pecorino is a harder cheese than bryndza, I decided to give it a try. I made halušky, which is a Slovak version of gnocchi and very very generously grated Pecorino over them. Then I added rendered bacon fat and fried bacon and I felt like I’d gone to heaven. It worked. It is not exactly the same as making it with bryndza, mostly because bryndza would make the halušky creamy. If you feel like it, you can add 1 or 2 tablespoons of sour cream, that should do the trick. In other improvements from the last time we posted this recipe, I made the halušky dough better with more potato flavor.
Improved recipe based on ingredients bought and available in the US. This feeds 2 adults and 2 kids with leftovers for a tiny mouse.
Making the halušky requires a special tool – a halušky maker (like a colander with extra-large holes). A colander, or even a grater with large holes can be a decent substitute. If you don’t have any of the above, buy packaged gnocchi (cut them in half) or spaetzle and cook them as directed.
Makes 4 portions.
- 2½ cups finely grated and juiced potatoes
- same amount of flour as potatoes (about 2 cups)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup of water
- 1 egg
- 1-2 cups finely grated pecorino cheese
- 1 or 2 (or more) strips of bacon per person
- 1-2 Tbs sour cream (optional)
- Grate the potatoes, and add the flour, salt, egg and the water. You should get a goopy dough. That’s ok.
- Set a large pot of water to boil. When it has come to a boil, using a rubber spatula or board scraper (or the scraper that came with your halušky maker), quickly press the dough through the holes of the halušky maker/colander/grater into the water, scraping back and forth until all the dough has gone through. When the halušky float to the surface, in 2-3 minutes, they are ready. Drain, reserving ¼ cup of the cooking water.
- In a bowl mix halušky, pecorino and sour cream (optional).
- Fry the bacon until the fat is rendered. Add some of the fat to the halušky and top them with the crumbled bacon.