Almost every single kid in Bulgaria grew up eating homemade “Princessi”: tasty sandwiches made of grilled minced meat on top of bread slices. They are ridiculously simple and yet very easy comfort food which you can prepare in minutes for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Read on to find the story of the recipe and how to make it at home.
Where does this recipe come from
Most probably Princesses have been created sometime in the 1960s as a clever way to make a satisfying meal without using too much of the expensive at the time meat. But as they were so easy and tasty, these sandwiches quickly became popular across the country.
It is very unclear, though, why a meat sandwich would be called “Princess”. Some sources suggest that it was called so after the name of a Thracian Princess since many of the meals and commercial brands invented during those years were called after historical locations or figures.
If you are interested to read more on the topic, you can check this article (in Bulgarian).
What ingredients you need
Traditionally Princesses (принцеси in Bulgarian) are made with minced meat and grated kashkaval, which is a kind of local yellow cheese. Some versions include also an egg and different kinds of spices. You can use other kinds of cheese without compromising the taste and the texture of the sandwich: emmental, gouda, cheddar, are all good options. As for the meat, there are no strict rules what kind it should be. Beef and pork are both fine, even better if using a mixture of them.
What spices to use
There are different spice variations used for Princesses. Savory and fenugreek are two spices commonly used in these sandwiches and in Bulgarian food in general. In fact they are part of the famous Bulgarian spice blend Sharena Sol which is commonly used in the princesses meat mix and can be also sprinkled on top of the baked sandwiches. Other than that you can also use black pepper and optionally cumin or thyme. In any case beware that less is more in terms of spices so I don’t advise you to add all of the listed ones and in large quantities.
How do you bake the sandwiches
You can bake them in the oven or in a grill with only the top heat on. I normally preheat the oven with normal heating up and down and after placing the tin with the princesses inside, I switch to top heat only. This will preserve the bread from becoming excessively crispy and crumbly.
The best about princesses is that they can be served at any time of the day: perfect for breakfast and brunch but also for a quick lunch or dinner. They go well with soup or salad. Here are some suggestions for recipes that would go very well with these sandwiches:
Did you like this recipe? Let me know in the comments what you think about it!
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- 1 pound/ 450 g minced meat see notes
- 8 slices of bread approximately
- 1 egg optional
- 1 1/2 cups/ 200 g cheese grated (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried savory see notes
- 1/3 teaspoon ground fenugreek see notes
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika optional
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin optional
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme optional
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/ 220 degrees C
- In a bowl mix very well minced meat, grated cheese, egg and spices. Spread the mixture evenly over the bread slices, using a butter knife or a spoon.
- Arrange the slices on top of a large baking tin covered with parchment paper.
- Switch the oven to top heat only.
- Bake the sandwiches for about 20 minutes or until the meat is all brown.
- Serve immediately.
- Meat: The best is to use a mixture of pork and beef but you can choose just one or the other.
- Cheese: Originally this recipe is made with Bulgarian kashkaval but you can use any kind of yellow cheese you like: cheddar, gouda, emmental, etc.
- Spices: The listed spices are optional and it is not recommended to add them all. Below are few good combinations: