Sourdough Khachapuri Adjaruli
A perfect weekend feast: The Georgian national dish of creamy, melted cheese baked in a soft and chewy crust.
Yukon Fusion Saturday Night Feast: Sourdough Khachapuri Adjaruli, sauteed fireweed shoots, Greek gigantes.
So many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures celebrate some combination of melted cheese and dough, whether baked, fried or grilled----the Greek tiropita, the Italian pizza or calzone, the Turkish borek, the Moroccan msemen. Whatever form it takes, cheese-and-dough is a brilliant invention--satisfying, comforting, delicious.
Here is more brilliance: Khachapuri, the most famous dish in Georgia. There are several regional variations of the Khachapuri, but in the Adjara region on the Black Sea the correct form is a boat-shaped container of dough holding a creamy, tangy, melty sea of cheeses, finished with an egg yolk and butter stirred in after baking.
Recipes for Khachapuri are making the rounds these days; the version I've adapted here popped up in my inbox from New York Times Cooking, always an excellent source of new ideas. I decided to give it a try using a modified sourdough pizza dough and am delighted to report success. The crust is a beautiful texture--both soft and chewy, and the tang of sourdough is a natural accompaniment to the pungent, salty combination of feta, ricotta and mozzarella cheese.
In my house the Khachapuri was the centrepiece of a small feast that included fresh fireweed shoots sauteed briefly in butter and giant lima beans (gigantes) baked in tomato sauce the Greek way.
Experiment with any accompaniment you like, and substitute cheeses for the filling freely--a Greek kefalotiri would work well with the feta and the ricotta, and if you live in the Yukon, try subbing Klondike Vallery Creamery's Jacques la Rouge for the mozza.
Khachapuri Adjaruli: the egg yolk and butter are a tradition in the Adjara region of Georgia
Sourdough Khachapuri Adjaruli
Makes 2 12-inch by 7-inch Khachapuri, enough for 4 dinner servings or 8 appetizers.
Starter note: To make two Khachapuri, you'll need 300g of active,100% hydration sourdough starter. Six to eight hours before you plant to begin the recipe, feed the starter.
100 g starter
100 g warm water
100 g all-purpose or bread flour
300 g (1 1/4 cups) active sourdough starter at 100% hydration
75 g (1/3 cup) warm water
1 Tbsp olive oil
300 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp granulated sugar
olive oil for coating the dough
200 g (2 cups) grated mozzarella
80 g (2/3 cup) Ricotta
80 g (2/3 cup) feta made with goat milk
4 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp melted butter, for brushing dough during baking
2 egg yolks (1 per Khachapuri)
4 Tbsp butter (2 Tbsp per Khachapuri)
To make dough, whisk starter, warm water and olive oil together in a medium-sized bowl.
In a separate bowl whisk together flour, sugar and salt.
Add flour mixture to starter mixture and mix thoroughly, making sure all the flour is hydrated, until you have a shaggy dough.
Turn dough out onto a counter lightly dusted with flour and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.
Pour a small pool of olive oil into a clean bowl and rotate the dough so that it's covered in oil. Cover bowl with a tea towel and a plate and set in a warm place to rise until nearly doubled in size--this will take from 4 to 6 hours.
Alternatively, retard the dough in the fridge overnight. Next day, remove dough from fridge and allow to finish rising at room temperature---about 3 hours.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and reserve. Dust counter lightly with flour.
Divide dough into two equal portions and knead briefly to form into boules. Roll each boule into a circle of about 10 to 12 inches. Place each circle onto a baking tray.
Using your fingertips, roll and pinch two sides of the circle inwards to form a rim of about 1/2-inch high around an oval, boat-like shape. Pinch the narrow ends together and tuck them under hthe rim.
Cover dough and allow to rise until slightly puffy, about 1 hour.
Khachapuri Adjaruli, ready for the oven
Combine cheeses in a medium-sized bowl and whisk together with a fork. Add water and whisk again.
When dough is ready, preheat oven to 450F (230C).
Spoon filling into dough, spreading it evenly. Bake Khachapuri for 15 minutes, until crust is starting to brown and cheese is bubbling.
Remove from oven and brush melted butter over the dough. Return to oven and bake until dough is golden brown and cheese is browning at the edges, about 5 minutes.
Make a small well in the middle of the cheese in each Khachapuri and drop one egg yolk into the well. Add 2 Tbsp butter and whirl yolk and butter into the cheese until it's smooth and stretchy.
Sourdough Khachpuri Adjaruli
Social isolation note: if you're eating with the people in your bubble, place the Khachapuri in the middle of the table, tear pieces of crust off and dip into the cheese. If you're enjoying appetizers on the deck with your socially distanced pals, slice each Khachpuri into four quarters and serve on individual plates with lots of napkins.
Leftover note: Cold Khachapuri is delicious for breakfast.