Categories: RecipesVideo

Hrudka – Easter Cheese from Eastern Europe – Sous vide and traditional methods!

It’s March and while we should be starting to get some warmer Spring-like weather here in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, it’s still kind of wintery.  Last Wednesday, we got 12-18 inches of snow in some places, but that doesn’t keep me from knowing that Spring is just around the corner. Easter is also only a week away now and it is time to make some hrudka, eastern European Easter Cheese.

Slovakian heritage, but found hrudka later in life

I visit my grandmother’s family’s town in Slovakia

My last name is Jaszewski. My father’s father’s side is Polish and my father’s mother’s family has Rusyn roots in the Carpathian mountains of what is now Slovakia, but I didn’t have hrudka in my Easter basket growing up.

I first tasted it when a co-worker, Chris, mentioned it me a few years back.  He knew that I was into food and thought that is was something I might enjoy. So I gave it a shot and made it at home.

Russian orthodox church in Chmelova

Hurdka is a simple cheese that takes little effort to make at home.

It was delicious!  How had I missed this growing up?

My grandmother’s Easter cheese

This year, when I was prepping to make my hrudka, I decided to call my grandmother to see if it was something she ever made.  Turns out she made it for my father and his siblings every year for Easter. Instead of hanging to drain the liquid off, she pressed it under a pan filled with water to weigh it down.  She also made cheese bread.  These would be part of the Easter baskets each year.  My grandparents and their kids would bring the baskets with their kielbasa down to the church on Holy Saturday for mass and then to be blessed in preparation for Easter the next day.

History of this recipe

When my mom married my dad, she was given a book of the Eastern recipes at her bridal shower. His family knew that he loved the food he grew up with and she could make his favorites in their new lives together.  She still has the book: Our Traditional and Favorite Recipes; Fourth Printing 1978. Compiled by the Mother’s Club of St. Mary’s Russian Orthodox Church, Minneapolis, MN.  That book has the recipes for the Hrudka – Easter Cheese (listed as “egg cheese ball” & “hrudka”), as well as the “Cheese Bread” that I understand, is called paska.  One look at this vintage book and you can tell how much it has been loved and used over the years my parents have been married – 35 years and counting!

The version for hrudka in the book doesn’t call for sugar or vanilla, but that varies according to your personal taste.  The version I made originally did include vanilla, so I’ll include it below as an optional addition for a “sweet” variation.  It is also possible to make savory variations with the addition of pepper, chives, parsley, wild garlic, saffron, etc.

Really, it is a blank canvas that you could use to customize however you like.  I happen to favor the sweet version the best and eat it straight. My coworker, Chris, and my dad’s family made the plain cheese and then put it into a sandwich.  There are so many great ways to eat it!

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Hrudka – Easter Cheese from Eastern Europe - Sous vide and traditional methods

Rate this recipe
2 ratings
Recipe by: Patrick Jaszewski
Category: brakfast
Cuisine: Slovakain, Ukranian, Eastern European

Ingredients

1 hour, 30 minutes
8
192
    For the basic base:
  • 12 large eggs
  • 1 quart (946ml) whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
    For the sweet variation
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 55g (about ¼ cup) sugar (optional)
  • Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
    For the savory variation
  • Pinch of saffron
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2-4 tablespoons herbs like chives, parsley, wild garlic (optional)

Instructions

Prep
10 minutes
Cook
1 hour, 30 minutes
Ready in
1 hour, 30 minutes
    Traditional cooking method
  1. Start heavy pot or double boiler over medium heat
  2. Beat eggs. Add milk and salt and mix well. (Also add any optional spices, sugar)
  3. Add to double boiler & cook stirring constantly
  4. At about 190-200F, eggs will start to curd and whey will separate
  5. Remove from heat (Stir in herbs if making savory version)
  6. Pour into a colander lined with a clean white cloth
  7. While still hot, as soon as you can handle it, squeeze as much liquid out as possible
  8. Twist and hang at room temperature until set (about 5-8 hours)
  9. Wrap and chill
  10. Slice and enjoy!
    For the sous vide method
  1. Set sous vide circulator for 195F
  2. Beat eggs. Add milk and salt and mix well. (Also add any optional spices, sugar)
  3. Pour mixture into glass mason jars and tighten lids "finger tight"
  4. Gently submerge in sous vide bath
  5. Cook for 90 minutes
  6. Remove from heat (In a large bowl, stir in herbs if making savory version)
  7. Pour or scoop out into a colander lined with a clean white cloth
  8. While still hot, as soon as you can handle it, squeeze as much liquid out as possible
  9. Twist and hang at room temperature until set (about 5-8 hours)
  10. Wrap and chill
  11. Slice and enjoy!

Notes

Nutrition is based on "base" recipe without sugar or add-ins. Time is assuming sous vide.

Nutrition information

Serving Size: 151g
Calories per serving: 192
Fat per serving: 10.52
Saturated fat per serving: 4.57g
Carbs per serving: 1.67g
Protein per serving: 7.67g
Fiber per serving: 0g
Sugar per serving: 15.81g
Sodium per serving: 357mg
Trans fat per serving: 0g
Cholesterol per serving: 288mg

Nutrition Facts

Hrudka – Easter Cheese from Eastern Europe - Sous vide and traditional methods

Serves 151g

Amount Per Serving
Calories 192
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10.52 16.2%
Saturated Fat 4.57g 22.9%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 288mg 96%
Sodium 357mg 14.9%
Total Carbohydrate 1.67g 0.6%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0
Sugars 15.81g
Protein 7.67g
Vitamin A Vitamin C
Calcium Iron

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

6.0.8
https://explorers.kitchen/recipes/hrudka-easter-cheese/

Cooking and lessons learned

When I made this the first few times, I used the traditional method.  It is really simple to follow and in intuitive.  The cheese curdles when it hits the right temperature and then you can strain it.  All the visual cues are there.

However, I wasn’t satisfied completely because it sometimes scorches on the bottom of the pan and you have to stir constantly for 20-30 minutes while it comes to temperature.  I wanted to try and develop a sous vide version so that wouldn’t require the hands-on time.  My first attempt at sous vide with this recipe was custardy and delicious, but not as firm as I would have liked.  I used 180F as my cooking temp and while it was really creamy, the proteins didn’t fully tighten up and expel the as much liquid as the traditional version (I squeezed out 1.5 cups vs 2.5 cups of whey).

Therefore, I’m proposing a cook temp of a very hot 195F for 90 minutes.  I haven’t tested this yet, but since I wanted to get this out before Easter, I’ll have to try it again next year.  If you try the sous vide method, please let me know how it comes out!

Russian Orthodox church in Chmelova

More photos from my trip Slovakia

As I was choosing photos for this post from my trip to Slovakia, I had such a hard time narrowing it down, so here are a few more from Chmelova and Bardejov.

Having 1 Euro beers with my cousin Mitch at a tiny bar in Chmelova

Beautiful historic hotel I stayed at in Bardejov

Pretty building at Bardejov’s historic city center

Bardejov’s historic city center

Patrick Jaszewski @pjaszewski

Culinary Tyrannosaurus, passport stamp collector, home cook, pilot, strength enthusiast, bilingual, coffee roaster, recovering homebrewer. Committed to DIY ethic. Minnesota native transplanted in Pennsylvania. Thunderbird MBA Alumni and Golden Gopher. Undyingly positive and open minded. Drives Jill crazy by questioning everything.

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