Khachapuri with Fresh Herbs
Hailing from the country of Georgia, Khachapuri ("cheese bread") is a decadent boat-shaped pizza-like dish filled with cheese, eggs, and butter. Here, I added some fresh green things (so you can pretend it's healthy) and a mixture of cheeses for optimal creamy-tangy flavor and meltability.
Makes: 2 breads
- 1 (14- to 16-ounce) ball pizza dough
- 8 ounces feta cheese crumbled
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella shredded
- 4 ounces mild, buttery-tasting semi-soft cheese shredded (such as Muenster or something cool from your local cheese shop)
- 1½ cups chopped fresh dill, mint, and tarragon or any mix of fresh herbs you like
- 2 large eggs separated
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Divide the dough into two equal-size pieces, and form each into a ball. Cover and set aside.
Place your pizza stone or steel (if using) on an oven rack in the bottom third of your oven. If you plan to cook your pizza on a baking sheet, just place a rack in the middle of the oven (you do not need to preheat the baking sheet). Preheat the oven to 500°F (or the highest temperature your oven will allow, if using a pizza stone/steel) and let it heat up for at least 30 minutes while you stretch the dough and assemble the toppings.
If you're using an outdoor pizza oven, get a fire going with charcoal and hardwood (maple, oak, or pecan work great), and keep it steady for 20 to 30 minutes. (Aim for a temperature between 600°F and 700°F.)
In a mixing bowl, stir together the cheeses and herbs, then use your hands to form the mixture into two balls.
Stretch or roll each piece of dough into a 8 x 6-inch oval. Place a cheese ball in the center of each piece of dough, and smash them down with the palm of your hand. Pull the dough up to surround the cheese, and twist the ends to make a boat shape (see photo above). If you're having trouble getting the ends to stay twisted, dab them with a little water to help create a seal.
If you're using a baking stone/steel or an outdoor oven
Transfer the boats to a lightly floured pizza peel and shimmy them into the oven. (Work one at a time if you don't feel comfortable baking both together.) Bake until the cheese is bubbling and the crust begins to brown—4 to 5 minutes in an indoor oven, or 2 to 3 minutes in a wood-fired oven—then slip the peel underneath, remove them from the oven, and drop an egg yolk in the center of each boat. Return to the oven and bake for a minute or two, until the yolks are set on the outside but still jiggly on the inside.
If you're using a baking sheet
Transfer the boats to a lightly oiled or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 5 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and the crust begins to brown, then slide an egg yolk on top of each boat. Bake just until the yolks are set on the outside but still jiggly on the inside.
Remove the boats from the oven and immediately top each one with a tablespoon of butter. Serve hot, pulling the crust from the edges and dipping it into the melted cheese.