Flaming Saganaki – Try This at Home!

by | Feb 19, 2012 | Appetizers, Cocktails, Recipes

Flaming σαγανάκι cheese at Demitri’s Taverna

My work buddies and I drop by Demitri’s Taverna, which is a Greek Restaurant in downtown Livermore, about once a month for flaming σαγανάκι cheese (saganaki) and ouzo. At Demitri’s the flaming saganaki is cheese that has been doused with ouzo and lit on fire. One of my work buddies describes ouzo as liquid Good & Plenty–it’s a sweet anise or licorice flavored Greek liquor. After drinking a shot of ouzo you shout “opa!” (just like in the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding).  At Demitri’s the same thing is shouted after the saganaki is lit. A few times after our saganaki has been served, I have seen other diners call our server to their table to ask what the saganaki is. Once they find out the diners usually say, “That’s what we’re getting next time!”

The saganaki at Demitri’s is served with grilled bread and a side plate of sliced onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and capers. The way I like to eat the saganaki is to spread the cheese on the bread and eat it like an open faced sandwich with the vegetables on the top. It is so good!

For weeks I have been trying to make flaming saganaki at home, but I couldn’t find ouzo at the grocery stores where I shop. I finally made it to BevMo and bought some ouzo there. I couldn’t find the Greek Kasseri or Kofalotiri cheese, so I used asiago cheese instead.

If you try this recipe at home, be sure to do it in an area that is not near any combustible items. If this recipe looks too hazardous to try at home, drop by Demetri’s–he’s a real personable guy and will be glad to serve you saganaki and ouzo!

Flaming Saganaki

  • Kasseri or Kofalotiri cheese (asiago works too)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons Ouzo
  • 4 slices of bread – sourdough or peasant bread work well
  • 2 romaine lettuce leaves
  • 1 small tomato sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 slice of red onion, cut into strips

Cut cheese into slices 1/4 inch thick. Melt butter in a small skillet and place the cheese in the skillet. Broil on high 4 to 6 inches from heat until cheese bubbles. Remove from heat. Pour ouzo over the cheese and ignite immediately. Squeeze lemon juice over the top and serve with grilled or toasted bread and veggies.

Romain lettuce leaves, tomatoes, onions, and capers to eat with the saganaki

Grill or toast some bread

Melt the butter in a small skillet

Place slices of cheese in skillet

Place under broiler until cheese bubbles

Quickly ignite the ouzo after pouring it over the cheese

Squeeze lemon juice over the cheese

Saganaki is ready to serve!