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Khachapuri: Ancient Stuffed Crust Pizza

Khachapuri: Ancient Stuffed Crust Pizza

 

In the annals of food news, nothing has ever captured our fancy as immediately and completely as khachapuri — it was love at first sight. If you’ve never had it, khachapuri [khah-chah-POOR-ee] is a chewy dough boat that’s filled with cheese, topped with an egg, and baked ‘til it’s melty and golden. 

We first learned about khachapuri from an illuminating LAist article that nicknamed it “ancient stuffed crust pizza” and lightly traversed its complex history. According to the article, khachapuri originated in 11th century Georgia during the kingdom’s Golden Age, but versions of it may have been bouncing around even before then. It arrived in Los Angeles in the 1920s with our Georgian, Armenian, and Lebanese communities.

Let us say that the pictures in the article were something, and that as soon as we saw them, we had to eat a khachapuri — and as soon as we ate one, we wanted to make one.

In the recipe we developed, the khachapuri boat is made out of our own pizza dough recipe. We fill it with mozzarella and feta, and then it goes into the oven on a pizza stone. When the cheese has melted and is just beginning to brown, we crack an egg on top, and slide it back into the oven. The result is a gorgeous khachapuri: The boat is chewy and dense with crispy cheese edges. In the center, the sunny-side-up egg breaks rich and creamy over the melty, gloriously salty cheese. 

The thing to do is tear off some of the crust and dip it in that gooey center. Eating it feels equal parts outrageous and comforting, like a warm, doughy pizza hug.

Our tips: In the test kitchen, we made the khachapuri with and without the Italian sausage. And though our tasters loved them both, everyone agreed the sausage added some spicy depth to all that cheesiness. 

 

Yields: 2 khachapuris

 

Ingredients

 

1 pizza dough recipe, divided into two rounds 

2 cups mozzarella, shredded

10 oz feta cheese, crumbled

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp flake salt

Semolina flour, for dusting

2 eggs

2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Italian sausage, optional

 

Special equipment: a 13-inch pizza stone

 

Directions

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 500º with the pizza stone on the center rack.

  2. Roll out each half of the dough into a 10- to 12-inch round pizza crust.

  3. Dock, or perforate, the dough with a fork or dough docker. 

  4. To make the first khachapuri: In a small bowl, combine the cheeses and spread ¼ of the cheese mixture onto one of the crusts.

  5. To form the dough into a boat, or oval shape, tightly roll one side of the dough about ⅓ of the way towards the center of the crust. Repeat with the opposite side. 

  6. Firmly grasp the ends of the roll, pinch each end, and twist twice to seal. 

  7. Fill the boat with another ¼ of the cheese mixture, gently pressing the cheese down.

  8. Brush the crust with olive oil, and sprinkle it with a pinch of flake salt and a bit more of the cheese mixture.

  9. Lightly flour a pizza peel with semolina flour, and then use the peel to transfer the khachapuri to the hot pizza stone. Bake the khachapuri for about 7 minutes, or until the cheese begins to brown.

  10. Crack one egg into a small dish, being careful not to break the yolk, and pour the egg into the center of the khachapuri. Cook for another 5 to 8 minutes.

  11. Remove the first khachapuri from the oven, sprinkle it with freshly chopped parsley, and then break the yolk into the cheese and gently mix. Enjoy! 

  12. Repeat all steps for the second khachapuri.

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