Ask any Slovak and they will tell you that bryndzové halušky is the national dish. Potato ‘dumplings’ are smothered in a sheep cheese, rather like soft feta, and topped with a good dose of bacon (don’t forget the drippings!).
The word ‘dumpling’ covers a multitude of meanings. As a child, a dumpling meant a puffy floury ball in soup or stew from my mom or a smooth more condensed drop from my dad.
I knew that dumplings covered everything from won tons to pierogies, but I thought that dumplings had to be boiled. According to Wikipedia, dumplings consist of some sort of dough, often wrapped around a filling, and can be boiled, steamed, or even baked. Well, that’s broad.
Halušky (ha-loosh-key) are made of raw potatoes grated small, flour, and egg. The dough is pressed through a contraption with holes so that the dough drops into the boiling water. Assuming you don’t have a halušky maker around, they are the same as a spaetzle maker (like these that you can buy on Amazon, either long or round).
Or, if you can’t get a spaetzle maker, you can gather the dough onto a cutting board, hold it tilted above a pot of boiling water, and scrape off pieces into the water.
Halušky are also used to make strapačky, sauted bacon, onion, sauerkraut, and halušky. I share a baked version of strapačky with potatoes (but you can switch out the potatoes for halušky if you like).
The taste of bryndza reminds me of feta, just soft. Most brands in the grocery store are now made from a combination of sheep and cow milk, although pure sheep bryndza can be bought at a salaš (sheep farm) or small stands selling sheep cheeses.
Bryndza is available in specialty stores in North America, but if you can’t buy it you can make a substitution with feta and sour cream.
Halušky are normally made with wheat flour, but a general purpose gluten-free flour can be substituted successfully.
Bryndzové halušky is a comforting combination of smooth dumplings, crispy bacon, and salty cheese. It’s very filling! It’s the perfect food to fuel the shepherd spending long hours outdoors, leading the sheep to pasture.
And, if you didn’t notice, bryndzové halušky graces the cover of my free ebook of Slovak recipes. Which you should get, if you don’t already have it. Look in the sidebar for the form to fill in your email so I can send it to you.
Bryndzové Halušky: Slovak potato dumplings with sheep cheese
- 500 grams (18 oz) potatoes about 5 medium
- 200 grams (about 2 cups) all purpose flour or gluten-free flour
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp salt
- 200 grams (7oz) bacon
- 250 grams (9oz) bryndza more or less to taste
- chopped chives or parsley optional garnish
- Bryndza alternative:
- feta cheese
- cream cheese or sour cream
- piece of butter
Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, grate raw potatoes on the fine holes. Add flour, egg, and salt and mix.
Use a halušky maker, or spaetzle maker, to drop the dough into the boiling water.
If you don't have either, you can put the dough on a cutting board and use a knife to cut off small chunks into the water. Do in batches so there isn't too many dumplings in the water.
When floating, use a slotted spoon to fish out the halušky.
Chop bacon and fry.
If making bryndza alternative, blend ingredients until smooth. What proportions? You can make it as strong or mild to suite your taste – more feta will make it stronger, sour cream will make it milder; cream cheese will be thicker, sour cream thinner. To start with, try half a cup of each feta and sour cream and 1½ tbsp butter.
Heap up dumplings, put bryndza on top (it melts as it warms up), sprinkle generously with bacon and optional chopped chives or parsley.