Try This: Slovak Dumplings, Two Ways
You may be familiar with spaetzle, the Central European egg dumpling found on menus at popular New York Austrian restaurants like Edi & the Wolf and Blaue Gans, but does the name Halusky ring a bell? This lesser-known cousin to spaetzle hails from Slovakia, where it plays a prominent role in the nation’s cuisine. While traditional spaetzle is made from flour, egg, milk, and salt, Halusky contains one additional ingredient—potato—lending it a distinct, gnocchi-like flavor. Now, it ain’t easy to find these heart dumplings in the city, but there are a few spots, like Korzo Haus, a cozy Slovak eatery in the East Village actually famed for its deep-fried burgers. Korzo Haus offers two variations of Halusky on its menu, both of which are great options for splitting between two or three people as accompaniments to their burgers (they don’t skimp on portions here!).
First up on the menu is Klassik Halusky, an appetizer that pairs the hand-cut dumplings with bryndza cheese, scallions, and bacon (though it can be made without bacon). This is Korzo’s take on Bryndzove Halusky, one of the national dishes of Slovakia. Bryndza, a sheep’s milk cheese with a feta-like taste and cottage cheese texture, imparts a delicate tanginess to the dish; the combination is awesome. Klassik Halusky could pass for an ultra-hearty mac and cheese, and is rich enough to stand alone as a meal, if you’d like to forego a fried burger altogether. I imagine that the key to great Bryndzove Halusky lies in the preparation of the halusky itself—Korzo cooks theirs to al dente perfection (too soft, and you’d have a bowl of mush). Slovaks typically drink milk or Zincica (similar to kefir) with their bryndzove halusky; at Korzo Haus, you can wash it all down with a craft beer instead.
Korzo’s second variation on Slovak dumplings eschews tradition in favor of delicious innovation: Fried Halusky. This heaping bowl of deep fried halusky makes for a decadent alternative to regular old French fries. Their texture is crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, with a pronounced potato flavor. Dip the little fries into fruity, housemade beet ketchup, or a cherry pepper and beet-based hot sauce. I recommend combining the two sauces for an optimal sweet and spicy blend (the hot sauce is very spicy). I’m pretty sure Korzo is the only place venturing into fried halusky territory, and they just might be on to something. Just ask the President of Slovakia, Ivan Gašparovič, who enjoyed a meal at Korzo Haus in 2010. Hey, if it’s good enough for him, we’ll take it!