I know how difficult it is to find bryndza cheese outside of Slovakia. I’ve been told that Polish shops in the USA and the UK sell a close alternative, but I can’t say how close it is to the real thing. Those who have been to Slovakia and tried Slovenská bryndza may be able to suggest a replacement.
Bryndza is a sheep’s milk cheese with a very specific texture and flavour. Its sensory and nutritional qualities are best preserved in unpasteurized form, which is where the problem with international export lies.
Bryndza Filled Pirohy (Bryndzové pirohy) is another recipe to show how versatile the cheese is. I hope it will encourage you to visit Slovakia and discover more of the country’s culinary gems.
Slovak Bryndza Filled Pirohy with Fried Bacon
Serves 6 – 8
For the dough:
- 500 g plain wheat flour
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 200 ml lukewarm water
For the filling:
- 250 g bryndza cheese (or another soft cheese)
- 200 g mashed potato
- 1 sprig dill
For the dripping:
- 150 g smoked bacon, diced
- oil for frying, if needed
- Put the flour in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour the oil into it and add the salt. Add the water and knead by hand to make a smooth, elastic dough. Cover with a dish towel and leave to rest for an hour.
- Meanwhile, rinse and chop the dill. Put the cheese and the mashed potato in a bowl, add the dill and work into a smooth mixture. Put aside.
- Roll out the dough on a floured rolling board until it is 3mm thick. With a pastry wheel or a floured butter knife cut out squares 5cm wide. Place about a teaspoon of the cheese mixture in the middle of each square. Dust your hands with flour and fold each square over the filling to make a triangle. Press the edges of the triangles together. Remember to leave about half of the cheese mixture for topping.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Reduce the heat and throw the triangles (pirohy) into the water. Depending on the size of your pot, you may have to do it in two or three batches. Cook the pirohy over a medium heat until they come up to the surface. Let simmer for another 3 minutes to cook them through, then take out with a slotted spoon. Transfer to a serving bowl and shake gently to prevent the pirohy from sticking together. When all the pirohy have been cooked, cover the bowl with a lid to keep warm.
- Put the bacon in a frying pan and place over a low heat. The bacon will start sweating and letting out fat. If this is not enough for frying, add some oil. Increase the heat and fry the bacon pieces, stirring them to ensure a good, crispy finish. Remove from the heat.
- Place 5 – 6 pirohy on a plate and crumble some of the remaining cheese mixture over them. Sprinkle a little bacon with the dripping over the top. Serve with a mug of milk or buttermilk.