A few weeks back, the diner had a brunch special I’d never heard of before. Khachapuri, they said, was a Georgian cheese bread.
Georgia like the state? I said.
No, like they country, they said.
Oh, I said.
And then I had to go look it up, of course, because cheese bread. Need I say more?
I never got a chance to sample any of the diner’s khachapuri (though I did help make a batch of the dough, I think), but back at home, I read a bunch of recipes and cobbled together my own version. I’ve made it twice now, once with a sourdough pizza dough and once with a regular yeasted dough (the regular yeasted dough was softer and paired better with the cheesy filling).
Striking the perfect balance between playful and easy, novel and delicious, it’s a fun meal to make. Like so: roll out a simple pizza dough and then bury it with a mix of cheeses.
Roll up two of the sides — with lots of cheese tucked inside, oo-la-lah — and pinch-twist the ends together to create a boat, of sorts.
Bake the boats, and then, just before they’re done, crack an egg into the center of each one.
Bake for a few more minutes and — voila, Khachapuri!
To serve, smack the pans down in the center of the table and watch the masses tear into it like wild dogs.
Khachapuri (Georgian Cheese Bread)
The recipe called for onion salt in the cheese filling, or dried dill; I didn’t use either.
Also, the second time around, I experimented with beating an egg into the cheese mixture to make it more creamy, and adding in a little sauteed spinach; it was fine but I think I prefer the straight cheese version. (I can’t help thinking that browned sausage would be a good addition, though then it wouldn’t be authentic Khachapuri, I suppose…)
I didn’t have chives, so I used green onions — stick with chives.
The recipe calls for one pound of your favorite pizza dough. I used a recipe from Food Network that makes two pounds (recipe included). ‘Twas excellent.
for the dough:
1 tablespoon sugar
1⅓ cups warm water
2½ teaspoons yeast
3 tablespoons olive oil
3¾ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons salt
In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, warm water, and yeast. Set aside for five minutes to let the yeast bubble and foam.
In a larger bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture and olive oil. Stir to combine, knead briefly, and then return to the bowl and cover. Let rest until doubled.
for the filling:
1 cup feta cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
2½ cups mozzarella (I used a mix of grated and fresh)
5 eggs, divided
4 tablespoons butter
red pepper flakes
to shape and bake:
Mix together the cheeses.
Divide the dough into four balls. Roll each ball into a 9-inch circle, more or less. Spread ¼ of the cheese on each of the dough rounds, going almost all the way to the edges. Roll up two of the sides, keeping the cheese in the dough, as though rolling sweet rolls. Pinch-twist the ends together. The dough should look like giant eyes, or boats. Add more cheese to the center of the boat, if you want.
Transfer the khachapuri to two parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush the edges of the dough with a beaten egg and then sprinkle with everything season.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and, using the back of a spoon, make a little crater in the cheese in each of the khachapuri. Crack in an egg, one egg per khachapuri. Tuck bits of butter into the cheese — about 1 tablespoon per khachapuri. Return to the oven and bake another 5-8 minutes, or until the egg is mostly set but still runny in the middle.
Sprinkle with chopped chives, red pepper flakes, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Eat while still hot, tearing off bits of the crust and using it to dip up the melted cheese and egg.
This same time, years previous: the relief sale doughnuts of 2019, the relief sale doughnuts of 2018, the quotidian (10.10.17), pasta with chicken, broccoli, and oven-roasted tomatoes, o happy!, catching our breath, it’s for real, clouds, green tomato curry.