Stinky cheese. The kind your parents or grandparents ate while assuring you that it is an acquired taste and you’ll love it when you grow up. The kind everyone imagines the French slathering their crispy baguettes with. As it turns out, the Polish people also have their very own stinky cheese. Intrigued?
Hauskyjza, because this is its name, means homemade cheese. The name comes from the German noun Hauskäse, which also translates this way. The origin of this term is quite simple: traditionally, people have prepared this cheese at home.
Other names for this product are ser smażony (fried cheese) or ser zgliwiały (rotten cheese). Apart from Silesia, versions of Hauskyjza can be found in Greater Poland, Pomerania, and Kuyavia. Although the names of this product vary across those regions, the recipe appears to remain the same in all cases.
The classification of Hauskyjza is tricky: some consider it a kind of cheese, and others classify it as a spread or foodstuff. The essential ingredients necessary for its preparation include tvorog (a quite firm white cheese made from cow’s milk), caraway seeds, butter, and sometimes eggs. In some versions, baking soda is added to condition the cheese and speed up the curdling process. All components are mixed and put aside for a couple of days to develop a distinctive strong flavor and scent as well as gooey consistency. Then, the mass is fried.
The scent and flavor of the finished Hauskyjza are so incredibly potent that they may be found offensive. Some people jokingly compare the smell emitted by this cheese to that of long-unwashed socks. Therefore, to say that it divides the room would be an understatement. Moreover, the stench is hard to get rid of; It can linger in your kitchen for a couple of days after the preparation has taken place. So if you want to make it at your own house, please ascertain that the air circulation inside is good.
Hauskyjza has a yellowish hue to it. Its consistency depends on the method of preparation: it could be either more runny and spreadable or solid.
When it comes to serving, Silesians traditionally consume Hauskyjza on dark bread or topped with chopped onions soaked in vinegar and oil. Several people also enjoy it warm and freshly fried. Then, it is consumed just like a fondue would.
Because white cheese does not store for long, people used to soak it in brine to prolong its shelf life. It was at the beginning of the 19th century when its melted version emerged.
Fried cheeses stem from German, Austrian and Czech traditions. Among the best-known cheeses of this type are German Harzer Käse, Austrian Quargel, and in the Czech Republic, Olomoucké tvarůžky. As the researchers indicate, people may have been making fried cheese on the Polish lands for approximately 100 years. According to some speculations, it may have been the Dutch and German homesteaders who, during the settlement procedures, popularized their preparation in Poland.
Nobody knows who exactly came up with the bright idea of frying moldy white cheese. I cannot really decide if the one who prepared Hauskyjza for the first time was a true visionary, a madman, or simply a desperately hungry person. Perhaps it had been the innate frugality of Silesians that inspired them to develop this dish. After all, it is a tasty way to use up the leftover cheese that would usually land in the bin.
After some time, Hauskyjza evolved from a quick and cheap way to use up some surplus cheese to one of the staple foods in Silesian households.
Preparation: past and present
Silesian housewives used to crumble the already rotting tvorog onto parchment paper. Then, they would sprinkle it with a dash of salt and place it on a sunny window sill. The cheese remained there until it gave off the characteristic stench of spoiling and was malleable enough. If the mass checked all of the boxes, the housewives fried it in a pan with caraway seeds and poured it into clay pots or glass jars to set into sliceable blocks.
To achieve a spreadable version, the housewives fried the cheese mass on melted butter and subsequently combined it with egg yolks (sometimes whole eggs) and spiced it with caraway seeds or any other spices favored by the household, including garlic, marjoram, savory, pepper, and paprika.
To prepare it today, you need to find a “real” tvorog. No industrial product will rot in the same way as the natural one. Apart from that, the whole process remains largely the same. You have to leave it to rot a bit, fry it while stirring continuously, and add all of the fixings and spices of your choice.
Below, you will find a step-by-step recipe with all of the most necessary information about the preparation of Hauskyjza.
- 500g of tvorog
- a sprinkle of salt and pepper
- a handful of caraway seeds
- 2 tbsps of butter
- 2 yolks (for a spreadable version)
- Crumble the tvorog and sprinkle it with the spices (apart from pepper). Then cover it with a cloth and put it aside somewhere far away from your nose.
- After approximately 4-6 days, it should have bits of yellow mold. The consistency should also change from solid to runnier.
- In a pan, melt the butter and add the cheese mixture. Fry it stirring continuously.
- Now you can add pepper and the yolks. However, do be careful with the latter. You need to stir them in really fast so that they do not set.
- Serve it on bread.
And it’s ready! Enjoy!