Food You Can Eat: Prisajak

Any Polish People Out There?

This is so much better than I thought it would be.

First things first:  I spent some time trying to look up other versions of this recipe online—because I am certain that this very Midwestern version is not traditional—but I couldn’t even find a reference to the food at all.  I’m guessing that it’s probably Polish in origin, but that’s all I’ve got.

A caveat before we get started:  The recipe doesn’t specify if the butter should be melted or not, so I assumed that I was just supposed to cut it into slices and mix it in that way.  It worked out just fine.

Here’s what you’ll need:

3 Eggs, slightly beaten

¼ Lb. American Cheese, cubed

⅛ Lb. Salted Butter

16 oz. Small Curd Cottage Cheese

1 Pkg. Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed

3 Tbsp. Flour

½ tsp. Salt

¼ tsp. Pepper

Wrap thawed spinach in a towel and twist to squeeze out water. 

Butter a 9” x 13” casserole dish.  Mix all ingredients directly in the dish.

If you unfocus your eyes, you’ll see a bunch of ingredients mixed together.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 1 hour here’s a little switch: I only needed to bake it for 45 minutes.

Ah, the power of cheese.

This is a pretty tasty side dish.  I suppose it could be a main course if you either doubled the recipe or used a smaller pan.  It’s super cheesy, which is the only thing that matters.

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  1. I looked around a bit online and I think that’s a variation of the Serbian Prijesnac. Or maybe the Croatian Presnac. The Montenegrans and Kosavars and Macedonians probably have their version too. Looks good, regardless of the language.

  2. American cheese?  Does it come in bricks & not just in plastic sheets for sandwiches?  What do you think the Polish people used, definitely not American cheese?


    • They might well have used American cheese. When the postwar flight to the suburbs began the ethnic markets stayed behind and it was pain in the ass to get back to them. My town was overwhelmingly Irish with a small minority of Italians and a few Jewish families and we didn’t have a single food source other than the two large chain supermarkets, and they weren’t about to stock seven varieties of Irish cheeses and 20 varieties of Italian cheeses. American cheese all the way, and if you were an adventurous eater, Swiss or cheddar. They did stock matzoh around Passover and I used to load up and hoard, because I thought matzoh was far superior to Premium Saltine Crackers, which was otherwise the only cracker we kept in the house.

      Plus, post-World War II and with the McCarthy era in full swing no one wanted to be anything less than 100% full-throated Americans. If you look at cookbooks from the 1950s it’s as if most Americans had forgotten what they had eaten growing up and had no memories of their parents and grandparents. Did no one remember that you didn’t need to make spaghetti sauce out of ketchup, for example? American cheese has many fine qualities, chief among them its meltiness, but really when you cook with it it’s mostly a salty binder that holds everything else together.

      And finally, yes, you can buy unsliced American cheese, that’s how I buy it. Delis will have bricks of it, and they’ll slice it for you or, if you ask about five or six times in a row, they will carve off the amount you want and serve you an unsliced mini-brick. Deli American cheese is the best version; it actually has flavor.

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