Pljeskavica (pronounced PLYESS-ka-vee-tsa) is a very popular burger-like food item in Hungary, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia and has recently gained popularity in Germany and Austria. In addition, it has become popular in Queens, New York and Chicago, Illinois where many Bosnians, Croatians, Serbs and Montenegrins are residing after the break-up of Yugoslavia. (Talking politics is kept to a minimum in these neighborhoods.)
(To win a prize, please quickly recite the above paragraph five times aloud.)
The name of this sandwich comes from pljesak, a regional word for clapping hands (i.e., the motion the hands make when shaping a burger).
A Pljeskavica Sandwich consists of a meat patty typically made with various combinations of beef, lamb, veal or pork (all parts of the animals are fair game), with onions and spices and served on a thick, spongy pita-style bread called lepinja. The burger is cooked to a smokey brown and can be stuffed with ham and cheese or mushrooms and mozzarella.
The passion for Pljeskavica runs highest in Leskovac, a Serbian city. Every September, the town has a grilling festival and the high point is an attempt to set a world record for the largest Pljeskavica.
Sadly, we at Big Fat Sandwich have yet to experience a Pljeskavica Sandwich. We look forward to visiting Old Bridge Restaurant (Stari Most in their native language) in Astoria, Queens where we have heard they offer a delicious version of this sandwich as well as many other traditional Bosnian dishes.
In the meantime, we found a couple of recipes online for Pljeskavica sandwiches that we’ll be trying at home: