On Boereg, aka “Cheese Things.”

It may take me a while to get to things sometimes, but I think I’m a gal of my word. I promised you the recipe to boereg, the one that has made my mother famous, so here it is:

Makes twelve squares

1 ½ pounds mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 stick butter, melted
1 16 ounce package of phyllo dough (it should have two packets of rolled up phyllo inside.)
1 bunch finely chopped parsley
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (My mother uses Korean red pepper flakes, but I use Aleppo red pepper flakes. Use whatever you can get your hands on, and feel free to experiment.)
1 large egg, lightly beaten and mixed with a splash of water

  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. Mix shredded cheese, parsley and red pepper flakes in a bowl.
  3. Brush a 13 x 17 ½ sheet pan with melted butter. Unroll one packet of phyllo dough, but keep covered with a damp towel as it will dry out very quickly. Layer the pan with three sheets of phyllo, taking care not to tear the phyllo. Brush the phyllo with more butter. Continue, alternating three sheets at a time with brushed butter, until you finish the entire first packet.* Brush the last sheets of phyllo with butter, then evenly distribute the cheese mixture over the sheets of phyllo, leaving about a ½- to a ¼-inch gap along the edge of the sheet pan. Open the second packet of phyllo, again keeping covered with a damp towel. Repeat the process of layering three sheets of phyllo with brushed butter until you finish the entire second packet. At this point, you can opt to tightly wrap the entire tray in tinfoil and store it in the freezer to be baked later (but no later than three months after assembly).
  4. Brush the top layer of phyllo with the egg wash. With a sharp knife, cut the unbaked boeregs into twelve squares — cutting beforehand may seem counterintuitive, but it’s important as the phyllo becomes so flakey it’s impossible to slice the boeregs neatly. Bake for thirty minutes, or until the dough turns a deep golden color. Eat immediately! Boereg must be eaten warm; once refrigerated, the phyllo deflates. Don’t worry, you can reheat individual squares in the oven (or a toaster oven, though I do not recommend using a microwave, as it’ll make the phyllo soggy).
* You can, of course, opt to use more or less butter in between more or less sheets. My aunt Hasmig, she of the macaroni-and-cheese squares, butters each sheet of phyllo. Her boereg is incredibly rich.