Saganaki (Greek Flaming Cheese)

Original recipe created 1994-07-11 by Martin Falatic
Published 1994-07-11
Updated 2011-11-14

Note: Please be careful when preparing this dish! I assume no responsibility for anything other than the tasty results of a job well done!

  • Heavy Metal skillet
  • Thick slab (~1/2 to 1″ thick) of Kasseri cheese
  • some milk, flour, and an egg.
  • few Tbs of olive oil.
  • a dash of warm brandy or gasoline (to start the excitement)
  • Lemon (for flavor, and to put out the blaze)
  • Long lighter
  • Bells, Ouzo, friends (the “unwitting participants” described in coroner’s report)
  • ABC news crew (to bring the excitement home)
  • A-B-C fire extinguisher (to stop the excitement)
  • Quincy, M.E. (to uncover how exciting it *really* was)

Coat the cheese in milk. Then, coat it with flour. Finally, coat it with a beaten egg. There! That oughta raise the cholesterol by 30 pts., eh?

Heat a metal skillet (not Teflon!) over medium/high heat. Add the oil directly to the skillet, and immediately add the battered cheese. Cook for a minute or two, or until brown, then flip it over and cook the other side. You have to flip it kinda quick, or else the batter with fall off the cheese. That raises an interesting point: how the *#%& do you do that without burning yourself?! First time I tried this, I was wearing a t-shirt and shorts. *Flip!* … *sizzle… yaaaaaa!* So, maybe a little protection is in order. Try Kevlar.

When it’s done, pour off the oil, and pour a bit of warm brandy over the cheese (hold it away from flammable things, such as your walls, kids, house, or certain entertainers.) Now, the fun part! Take the long lighter – you know, the type they use for launching the Space Shuttle. (A Bic moment: “Roger, Houston, ignition control ready at Pad 36A. 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… *click* *click-click-cli* WAAAAAAUUUUGHHHHHH!”) I got one of those BBQ grill lighters. Ever read the back of one of those? “DANGER!” it says, evoking the image of a certain bubble-headed robot swinging it’s arms in a mad and quite frightening fashion. “DO NOT USE near fire or flame!” Now, let’s see. Last time I checked, that is what the lighter is supposed to be making, right?! Of course, Dr. Smith would have tortured the robot with the spritely little 10″ flame the “lighter” – know by industry insiders like my neighbor, Bob, as “a *$!#%* blowtorch!” – puts out, but the rest of us must sit and wonder what drugs the people at Bic are ON! Of course, then again, they did invent the exploding pens… perhaps they just need a little vacation. Now, take the lighter and ignite the brandy/ cheese/ unlucky cook. Suddenly, *Whoosh!*, you have a blackened, crispy cinder! Ha ha, just kidding! You actually have serious burns requiring immediate medical attention, and will be in pain for years to come. Every move will remind you of your exciting brush with death, as you recount the tale to your grand-kids, bag-boys, and the IRS agent.

Those of you with presence of mind would have drunk the brandy instead of trying to cook this.

Anyway, real Greek people would ring bells as the flames licked the ceiling tiles, and hollar “Oprah!” at the top of their lungs, apparantly invoking the goddess of greasy cheese. Or, maybe that’s how they summon the medical personnel. “Put it out! PUT IT OUT!” the cook would hollar. I don’t know… the smart cooks use the lemon to extinguish the flames – now engulfing whole walls of the building – and to season the cheese just so. The saganaki is then served in the traditional style, with a loaf of bread broken into big chunks, a glass of Ouzo, and a traditional fire blanket draped artfully over the cook, as he rushes the meal to your table, in the style of the firefighters who inspired us to Watch Out! for the “Backdraft.” It’s a meal you won’t soon forget…

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