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Serbian Meat Burek October 29, 2010

Posted by Paula Erbay in Appetizers, Main Dishes.

The inspiration for the Junior Potluckers’ “Serbian Cooking Show” was this burek. I wrote this article for the May/June 2010 issue of Serb World USA magazine. It is copy written and appears here with their permission.

Dona tells me the recipe is an amalgamation of many. Of course, she and Diane had learned burek from their mother, Darinka. But, as Dona said, “Over the years, we changed it here and there. Somewhere along the way, I quit using potato, found ingredients I liked on internet recipes, and so on.” Mother Darinka, after years of watching Diane make burek and adding her constant reminder ~ “You’ve got to roll it tighly”, only gave her stamp of approval a couple of years ago. “You finally learned,” she said, “how to roll the burek” Well, Diane tells me that put a big smile on her face.

She continues to make burek with her mother and her sisters, and now her daughters, too. While this recipe is perfection, they enjoy experimenting with different fillings: a variety of cheeses, spinach, and more.

Whenever her friends have a party, Diane doesn’t even have to ask what they want her to bring ~ burek, of course.

Dona credits Chef Maja of the Belgrade Hyatt for her addition of paprika. She had complimented Chef Maja on her wonderful sarma (stuffed cabbage) and asked how she made it. It wasn’t until she returned home that Dona realized Chef Maja had meant “paprika” not “red peppers.” (Darinka hadn’t been there to translate). As a result, Dona experimented with paprika in every meat dish after that, including burek.

The sisters, Dona and Diane, think the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese may have been their mother’s additions. She often sprinkles a bit into her meat mixture. But, with daughters, mothers, and sisters all sharing in the kitchen-as in life-who is to know for sure where the idea came from? The end result is a burek that truly reflects what I think we Junior Potluckers are: a bit of our mothers and grandmothers, a bit of our own journeys, and a modem twist thrown into the mix.

Click here for the full article “The Serbian Cooking Show”


1 T olive oil
1 med. yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 Ib. ground beef
¾  cup, chopped fresh parsley
1-2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 box phyllo (filo) pastry sheets (12″ x 17″)*
¾  cup butter, melted
1 cup bread crumbs, plain
1-2 tsp. paprika
2-3 garlic cloves crushed or finely chopped
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

* Phyllo can be found in the frozen section of most supermarkets.
Ethnic markets have a higher turnover, so it’s fresher.


Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Saute the onion until soft, and then add the ground beef, garlic, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the meat is crumbly but not dry (if too greasy, drain the meat mixture). Then add the parsley. Stir for a minute, let cool, add the eggs and stir together.

Lay a sheet of phyllo dough on a clean kitchen towel. Brush with some butter. Then sprinkle with a little bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Continue layering with dough then crumbs and parmesan until you have 4-6 layers of phyllo or more, depending on your preference.

Place meat mixture across long edge of prepared phyllo about 2 inches in from the edge. Fold the long edge over the meat mixture then fold in the sides. Roll your burek into a fairly tight roll, butter the folded sides and then the long edge at the end to seal the dough. Diane uses the towel to help roll the burek. Her tip: hold the towel taunt, spreading your hands as wide as possible to maneuver and tightly roll the dough.

Place the roll on a parchment lined baking sheet or non-stick baking sheet. Brush with additional butter on the top of the roll, and sprinkle with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.

Repeat this process, making burek rolls, until the meat mixture is used completely.

Preheat your oven to 375° and bake burek rolls for 15 to 20 minutes or until just golden. Slice and serve. Yields 2-4 burek rolls, depending how thick you make your rolls.

Note:  Burek freezes beautifully by flash freezing. Place unbaked rolls on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and into the freezer. When frozen, tightly wrap each roll separately with parchment paper or plastic wrap. Then tightly wrap foil over the parchment.

Place the wrapped rolls back in the freezer. When ready to use the frozen burek, remove as many rolls as needed from the freezer. Unwrap and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Allow to thaw at room temperature-about 10 minutes-while the oven preheats to 375°. Bake 15 to 20 minutes as above, until golden brown.

Prijatno! (Serbian for “Bon Appétit”, “Con Provecho”, “Afiyet Olsun”, “Buon Appetito”)



1. Juan R - August 17, 2011

this recepi is for how many people?

2. Paula Erbay - August 23, 2011

The quantity will vary based on how thick you make your burek rolls, and the size of the pieces you cut. I usually make 4 rolls from the recipe above, then cut each roll into slices (about 1 1/2 inch slices as shown in photo). I have not counted how many slices I make as someone is always reaching in to eat one before I am done. ~ Paula

3. Amber A. - January 28, 2012

I made this for dinner the other night. My Serbian heritage has always been VERY important to me and I’ve always cooked on holidays…I’ve expanded now to making at least one Serbian dish a week. This was fantastic and reminds me of my Grandma Mileva’s…thank you so much!

4. Meat Burek Ridgewood - May 28, 2015

Thanx alot for these wonderful information.

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