Monday, April 22, 2013

Hrutka, Slovakian Egg Cheese

hrutka or cirak

My mother called it certzo but my elder sister calls it hrutka (rolling the r) either pronunciation describes the same traditional Slovakian egg cheese my mother and grandmother used to make.  My wife has carried on the tradition and she makes this family recipe every Easter.    Some recipes call for beating all the ingredients together, my mother claimed that good hrutka had large flecks of white in a sea of yellow.   During my childhood these solid slabs of egg cheese, along with cold ham, cold boiled sausage, kolachkes, dark rye bread and poppyseed rolls were our traditional  Easter brunch after a long and boring church service.  It's been my experience that these traditional foods are vastly more enjoyable without the church.  


15 eggs
1 quart of milk
1 tsp salt

Crack the eggs into a bowl.  You want to break the yolks, but do not beat or stir the eggs.  Traditionally, we heated milk to a boil by slowly heating on the stove while constantly stirring to avoid scorching.  Scorching the milk will ruin the taste of the egg cheese, so if its scorched you'll have to start over.  My wife microwaves the milk on high, about 10 minutes and the milk is boiling without any stirring or scorching.  Pour boiling milk into a 6 quart pan on the stove with medium low heat, gently pour in eggs. Continue gently stirring until the eggs congeal and the liquid is clear.  Pour into a cheesecloth lined colander, drain for a few minutes then twist the cheesecloth to form a ball.  We leave the wrapped cheesecloth in the colander to drain until the dripping has slowed down.  My mother used to hang the tightly wrapped cheese ball so it could drain.  My wife places the wrapped ball in a large bowl with an inverted small bowl underneath so that it continues to drain overnight in the refrigerator.  Refrigerate overnight.  slice into 1/2 thick slices with a sharp knife. 

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