I gotta say, I’m pretty much all over the place, today. Yesterday it was a down-home dish of Easy Cheesy Chili Mac and today? Today, I’m going to Bulgaria, in my mind at least, and serving up Bulgarian Cheese Pot – Сирене по шопски в гювече. If you are from Bulgaria or know Bulgarian, please feel free to correct my translation if it isn’t correct! Google translation has not always done me right!
But regardless of the translation, or of the name of this dish, which can be several things including “Market Cheese” or Thracian Clay Pot, like I saw on Diner’s Drive-Ins and Dives, you might just want to give this dish a try! Either as an appetizer, a starter, or maybe even a simple dinner. Or maybe for a brunch dish some weekend. On the deck or patio if it ever stops raining and warms up. And despite sounding all gourmet, this is like a five minute to assemble, and a few minutes to bake kind of thing. I love that!
About Bulgarian Cheese Pot – Сирене по шопски в гювече:
What we’ve got here is layer on layer of goodness. Layers of tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, green onions, more tomato, all drizzled with olive oil and herbs and then a good Feta cheese (In Bulgaria, their version of Feta is called Sirene) and some dried sausage. It’s all topped with an egg and a hot pepper. Then it is roasted in a clay pot of some sort in a hot hot oven. So simple and so delish. And we (my son was over helping with more yard work) went crazy over it. I even made another one around midnight, lol! I was craving it!
Don’t worry, it doesn’t cook long enough to heat up the kitchen too much (although it might go on my grill next time) and if you don’t have a clay pot (the ones I saw in photos from Bulgaria were all so darling) my little pots came from a thrift store years ago and I still see them everywhere. Or you can just use a small casserole or bowl and cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil. It will still have all the flavor! You can make these any size, but I think individual servings are the way to go here – that way everyone has their own an there won’t be any fights over the last bits!
When those little pots or casseroles come out of the oven all bubbly and hot (the smell alone is heavenly) you’ll dig in and spread it on bread. I used fresh soft pita. Maybe next time, I’ll just use a baguette so the bread will sop up more of the lovely juices. I’d urge you to try it as is, then come up with all your own variations. I’m already thinking of a Mexican and/or a Spanish Clay Pot!
Making Bulgarian Cheese Pot – Сирене по шопски в гювече:
I love that this is hardly cooking at all, just layering ingredients in the right order, popping it in the oven, and once it’s hot and bubbly adding in the sausage and the egg and cooking for about three more minutes.
I decided to take a little “road trip” over to Minneapolis to grab my ingredients from Bill’s Imported Food. Which is owned by a Greek lady, btw. I don’t know who Bill is! I can’t remember the last time I was in the Lyndale/Lake area so I was enjoying it. It was well worth the trip because I not only got some great Feta, I got Bulgarian Feta. And Bulgarian sausage. (Which tasted exactly like summer sausage, so maybe next time I’ll just buy summer sausage or maybe use some Spanish chorizo.) If you’re not lucky enough to have a market that sells Bulgarian Feta (Sirene) look for the softest Feta you can find; maybe a French Feta. And if you have to buy grocery store Feta, look for the blocks in brine as opposed to the dry crumbles.
Since I felt my sausage was lacking a bit of zip, I added in a few red onion flakes, def not a traditional ingredient, and rather than plain ol’ paprika, I dusted the top of my pots with smoked paprika. I also added green onion and parsley over the top of my pot and a little salt in the pot. I think the fresh herbs as a garnish really helped “make” it, especially the extra dose of the fresh green onion. Depending on the flavors you are used to, you might want to jazz up your pots with more herbs or garlic, but I appreciated them just as is.
Saving Money on Bulgarian Cheese Pot – Сирене по шопски в гювече:
Anytime you have access to ethnic markets, it’s always worthwhile to stop in and see what they have. I bought a half a pound of fresh Feta for less than I’d pick up one small cryovac package of dried up Feta crumbles, which I think are three ounces, in the grocery store. And of course, I picked up a few other bargains and items that I can’t really find anywhere else.
I love that other than the Feta, and the sausage, which can be fudged with summer sausage or dried chorizo, this Bulgarian Cheese Pot – Сирене по шопски в гювече is made with everyday ingredients. One spice, savory, may not be in your spice cupboard. It’s considered to be an essential Bulgarian flavor. Try substituting a little marjoram or oregano, if you don’t want to buy savory or have no other use for it. It may lack that specific Bulgarian edge but it will still taste amazing.
I never buy pricey Roasted Red Bell Peppers. I just make them, usually after bell peppers are on sale. Especially if I buy extra. And they freeze very well, too. Just turn on your broiler, line a sheet tray with aluminum foil for easy cleanup and half the bell peppers top to bottom. Clean out any seeds and ribs, remove the stem and place cut side down. Roast until the skin has softened and blackened in some spots, moving around as necessary, then remove to a container, cover and let the peppers steam for several minutes. The skin will easily peel off.
Bulgarian Cheese Pot - Сирене по шопски в гювече
Double the ingredients for four pots.
- 1 large tomato, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- salt to taste
- 1 bell pepper, roasted and chopped, red and/or yellow preferred
- 1/2 cup finely sliced green onions, plus more for garnish (four or five, white and green parts)
- 3 ounces Bulgarian feta, or the softest Feta you can find
- 2 teaspoons dried savory
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 ounces sliced charcuterie, such as Lukanka or a similar European dry-cured pressed sausage
- 2 eggs
- 1 serrano pepper, split the long way
- Pinch fine paprika, Hungarian or Spanish, smoked is nice
- Thinly sliced green onion and finely chopped parsley for garnish
- bread for serving
Preheat the oven to 420 degrees F. Cover the bottom of the clay pot with the tomatoes. Lightly salt. Cover the tomatoes with the bell peppers. Add the scallions, then lightly salt again, then the feta, then the savory and red pepper flakes. Drizzle with the oil. Cover the lid of the pot and bake about 25 minutes.
Remove the pot from the oven and add the charcuterie. Press down in the center and crack the eggs on top of the charcuterie. Place the serrano pepper on top. Cover again and bake until the eggs are soft cooked, about 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the oven and sprinkle with paprika. Garnish with green onion and parsley.
Serve with bread.
I’ll be linking Bulgarian Cheese Pot – Сирене по шопски в гювече to Fiesta Friday # 281 this week. Stop by and check out the party!