|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
This recipe for Slovak egg cheese is typically served at Easter time and goes by various names including hrudka, cirak, sirok, sirecz and more. Essentially, it's a ball of eggs and milk that have been cooked until the proteins separate into curds and the liquid separates into the whey. The technique for making hrudka is similar to making farmers cheese.
Hrudka can be made savory with salt and sometimes pepper or sweetened with sugar. It's always included in the basket of Easter foods to be blessed on Holy Saturday and not eaten until the next morning, Easter Sunday, with other traditional blessed foods like beet horseradish, ham, sausage (klobása), salt and paska bread.
- 12 large eggs
- 1-quart whole milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 whole black peppercorns, crushed (optional)
- Fine cheesecloth
- Butcher's twine
Beat eggs in the top of a double boiler. Add milk and salt (and pepper if using) and mix thoroughly. Fill the bottom pan of the double boiler with about an inch of water. Bring the water to a boil and turn down the heat so that it is simmering hard. Place the upper pan containing the eggs and milk over (not in) the pan with the simmering water.
Stir frequently with a wooden spoon until the mixture curdles, approximately 20 to 30 minutes or until no more whey (the liquid) is exuded.
Line a colander with damp butter muslin or two layers of cheesecloth that is large enough to hang over the sides of the colander. Place the muslin-lined colander over a bowl to catch any whey.
Use a skimmer or slotted spoon to ladle the curds into the cheesecloth. Allow the curds to drain for 10 minutes. Then, gather up the edges of the cheesecloth to form a bundle to drain as much whey as possible from the egg cheese. Use a length of butcher's twine to tie the cheesecloth containing the curds into a neat bundle, pressing on the cheesecloth a bit to help the whey drain off.
Tie the twine to a wooden spoon or dowel, hang the egg-cheese curds over a pot or container to collect any remaining whey and continue draining for 30 minutes.
When the egg-cheese ball has cooled and is not dripping any more whey, place it in the refrigerator overnight still suspended over a pan so it will retain its round shape. When ready to serve, remove the cheesecloth.
Serve on sandwiches and sausages or on its own sprinkled with a little salt. This cheese is perishable and should be consumed within a day or two. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator.