Hrudka (Egg Cheese)

Hrudka (aka cirek, sirets, sirok, sireczs) is a simple custard cheese that’s essential for many Eastern European Easter tables. It’s served cold, sliced and eaten by itself or often as part of a ham or kielbasi sandwich made on Paska bread that’s slathered with beet horseradish. 

For many of us in the Coal Region who have Eastern European roots, the making of  hrudka  is among some of our favorite traditions of the Easter holiday.  Hrudka is often included in a basket of food taken to church blessed on Holy Saturday.

This Catholic ritual has been cherished for generations among many Coal Region area families. The roots of this tradition date back to the 12th century early history of Poland, however, the Eastern Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians, including Czechs, Croatians, Hungarians, Lithuanians, Russians, Slovaks and Ukrainians, also participate in this holy ritual. The blessed food is not eaten until after mass on Easter Sunday.

Blessing of the baskets.

The basic recipe is mixing eggs and milk, adding salt, and cooking it while continually stirring until the curds form.  Many families have their favorite version of hrudka and many include sugar and vanilla in their recipes. 

Once the ingredients are cooked, the contents of the pot are poured into a strainer that is lined with cheesecloth or a porous towel. When the liquid drains, the cheesecloth is gathered and the liquid is squeezed out by hand to form the ball. The cheesecloth is tied to keep the ball shape, then hung over a container to allow remaining liquid to drain for a few hours or overnight.

The hrudka is stored in a refrigerator for the Easter feast. Some use the leftover liquid in other recipes, such as paska bread.


Cook’s Note

The Easy, Modern Cooking Method

Cooking in the microwave shortens the cook time and eliminates the scorching that sometimes occurs with cooking on the stovetop. Directions for both cooking methods are included in the recipe.


Hrudka (Egg Cheese)

Recipe by A Coalcracker in the KitchenCourse: Appetizers, Snacks, SidesCuisine: Eastern European, Coal RegionDifficulty: Easy

Hrudka is a simple custard cheese that’s essential for many Eastern European Easter tables.

Ingredients

  • 12 eggs

  • 1 quart whole milk

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • OPTIONAL (for sweet hrudka). 1 teaspoon vanilla and 4 Tablespoons sugar (or to suit your taste – some people add up to a cup)

Directions

  • Beat eggs. Add milk, salt, (if using) sugar and vanilla and beat well.
  • Cook in double boiler, stirring constantly, until the mixture turns to curds and “white water” appears. Cook the mixture for a few minutes after the white water appears. Be careful not to allow the mixture to scorch.
  • Pour the mixture into a strainer lined with a cheesecloth or a porous kitchen towel.  Squeeze out the liquid, being careful not to burn yourself.
  • Tie the cloth tight and hang it in a place where it can drip dry. (Some use a kitchen faucet for this purpose, others use a wooden spoon placed across the top of a pot.
  • Allow the hrudka to cool, squeezing it a few more times to really squeeze the water out of it.
  • Place it in the refrigerator. Allow it to hang to set for several hours or overnight, unwrap..
  • Store well wrapped in the refrigerator.
  • Modern Microwave Cooking Method
  • Cook in the microwave in heat safe bowl on high, fluffing with a fork between rounds of cooking as follows:
    4 minutes, fluff
    4 minutes, fluff
    2 minutes, fluff
    2 minutes, fluff
    1 minute, then continue fluffing until it looks like watery scrambled eggs (the fluid will be clear).
  • Pour the mixture into a strainer lined with a cheesecloth or a porous kitchen towel. Squeeze out the liquid, being careful not to burn yourself.
  • Tie the cloth tight and hang it in a place where it can drip dry. (Some use a kitchen faucet for this purpose, others use a wooden spoon placed across the top of a pot.
  • Allow the hrudka to cool, squeezing it a few more times to really squeeze the water out of it.
  • Place it in the refrigerator. Allow it to hang to set for several hours or overnight, unwrap..
  • Store well wrapped in the refrigerator.