Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Flaming Greek Cheese (Saganaki) – Burning For You

I usually try to squeeze in one more sexy dessert video before Valentine’s Day, but instead I opted for this show-stopping, and super-savory saganaki. What it lacks in chocolate, it more than makes up in being on fire. I know what you’re probably thinking… what about a flaming chocolate dessert? Maybe next year.

In case you’re wondering, the original saganaki was not flambéed. This flaming cheese ritual was started by restaurateurs in Chicago, who were hoping a little bit of showmanship would help increase cheese appetizer sales, which it certainly did. They also made the experience interactive by encouraging customers to yell, “Opa!” as the plate was being ignited. If there’s one thing people love even more that flaming fried cheese, it’s yelling.

I really love kasseri cheese for this, since it holds its shape, crusts up nicely, and melts beautifully. I’ve also done this with a cheese called haloumi, which is tasty, but doesn’t melt at all, and for me that’s the best part. Beside those two, you can also use graviera, kefalograviera, kefalotyri, or even a firm feta cheese. No matter which cheese you use, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 large portions:
4 ounce slab of kasseri cheese (about 3/8 inch thick), or other cheeses listed above
water and flour as needed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons brandy, room temp
1/2 lemon to squeeze over, or to taste
1 tablespoon freshly chopped Italian parsley
sliced fresh or grilled bread to serve alongside


John said...

Doesn't saganaki just refer to an appetizer or anything made in a small frying pan? I always associated saganaki with a shrimp dish.

Tim Morton said...

Great recipe! Definitely want to try this out. What proof does the liquor need to be, and any other suggestions? A big fan of yours, thanks.

Chuck said...

Experience tip: Ladies, tie your hair back pre-ignition. Don't light in the vicinity of smoke alarms.

Francapz said...

Thank you for all your great recipes! I was almost afraid to look at cheese on fire. Glad You shared this recipe! Can't wait to try it.
Food wise a great razzle dazzle !

Unknown said...

There you go again! I usually go out for this dish...and love to scream Opa! (Little Tony's Opa Opa in Astoria makes a great one). Now you need to complete the Greek tri-fecta! Lemon Potatoes and an Original Frape --- not the Starbucks version.

Thanks again for great recipes!

Travis Wedding said...

If anyone tries this with a cheese not listed and it turns out okay, let me know. There are no fancy gourmet shops around here and none of our stores carry any of these cheeses, except feta (which is usually packaged up in crumbled form)

cristina lafaurie said...


don thomas said...

Thank you Chef John!

Daniel L said...

This looks great! Will you do a creamed eggs on toast video? That's my foodwish!

Unknown said...

I LOVE your videos! Thank you!

TheGoodNews said...

Do you accept suggestions for which recipes to try next? If so, I have one :) Recently, I had a delicious dish at a Filipino restaurant. The menu said it was called "Bicol Express" but unlike every recipe I find for Bicol Express online it was not made with pork, beef or chicken. Instead it was made with swai fish which was coated with tempura/pancko and then served on top of the Bicol Express coconut cream sauce over rice. They appeared to have used dried chili flakes instead of any fresh chili to flavor to coconut sauce and it was also flavored with ginger and possibly garlic. The flavor was outstanding! Thank you :)

Kathleen Whipple said...

We made this tonight along with the honey sriracha chicken wings. I have to say this cheese is amazing! People were still eating it after it turned cold, they were peeling it off the skillet!! I served it with homemade bread, truly a winner! Thanks

Tina said...

What size is the skillet you used for this dish?