This is another variation on the traditional Slovak pasta. Yes, our halushki can also be served with sauerkraut, and topped with fried bacon. The old name for the dish is Strapačky (pronounced as strapatchki), which would translate as ‘curly halushki’ – the name very likely derived from the look these small potato dumplings get from the sauerkraut.
Cabbage is in season now in my country, and lots of Slovak households are getting their pots/crocks ready for making sauerkraut – the fermented form of white cabbage. We know very well what a plentiful source of vitamins and minerals sauerkraut is. It helps us survive our long, harsh winters when we often eat it raw to increase the levels of C vitamin in our bodies and thus boost our immune system. It is also an indispensable ingredient for many of our dishes, not to mention its beneficial effects in times of hangover.
4 large potatoes
300 – 400 g fine flour (plain wheat can be combined with wholemeal in a desired ratio)
0,5 kg sauerkraut
150 g smoked bacon, diced
oil for frying (if needed)
Peel and wash the potatoes. Grate them raw on a nutmeg side of the grater, or blend in a food processor. Add the flour and a pinch of salt. Mix well to achieve a dough of medium thickness, as seen in the picture below, right. The exact amount of flour will depend on the size and type of the potatoes, and whether you use a grater or a food processor. In the latter case, you might need to add a little water to better blend the potatoes. It’s always good to start with less flour, and keep adding more (if need be) as you mix the dough.
To make halushki, you will need a holey tin-plate that can be attached to or hooked over a pot with boiling water, as shown in the picture below, left:
Choose a large cooking pot and fill it with water halfway up. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and place half of the dough on the tin-plate. Pass it through the plate using a wooden spatula. Stir halushki (small dumplings that form in the water) well and adjust the heat, so as halushki don’t overflow. When they’re cooked through, halushki will come up to the surface. Take them out with a sieve or a slotted spoon. Transfer into a serving bowl and shake gently to prevent halushki from sticking to each other. Cover to keep warm. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Put the bacon in a large, deep pan and heat over a low heat. Let sweat until it releases fat. If this is not enough for frying, add a little oil. Increase the heat and fry the bacon cubes until crisp and firm.
Throw in the sauerkraut and stir well into the bacon, so as to warm and grease it through. Transfer onto the warm halushki, stir again and serve hot on individual plates.
If not finished, Strapatchki can be stored in a fridge and reheated, although this rarely happens in my family. As with all food, Strapatchki are at their best when eaten straight after they’ve been cooked. This way the sauerkraut retains all its vitamins and unique taste.