Khachapuri with phyllo (puff pastry)
Death. This is it. Served in a fine disguise. Most exquisite aromas touching various places of your brain, taste patterns tingling all the way from the tip of your tongue to the lower layers of the stomach. A pure injection of love, memories of youth and raw cholesterol. The Avatar of cellulite incarnated in a boat-shaped, cheese-filled, egg-odored piece of pie. But know something. While every bite you take, subtracts 1 minute of your potential life on Earth, it's still worth it. And know something else. Never start your recipe with the word "Death". Never. Just don't.
Back to the topic, #Khachapuri is a Georgian recipe which they managed to claim as cultural heritage of Georgia in 2019. It is a cheese-filled "bread", shaped like a boat with egg, butter and cayenne pepper on top. I am really glad they did claim it because it is a culinary treasure. It usually gets its own bready crust, but what would this blog be if not effing everything up to name of discovery, science and boredom? So in our case, I will do it with #Phyllo, more commonly known as puff pastry. Except from the slothy factor, I used phyllo because I thought it would make it more stomach friendly than bready crust. And I was right. Hooray!!!
Steps are fairly easy. First focus on cheese. This step while it really is the easiest, needs a lot of thought because whatever mixture of cheese you put as filling, dictates the sum of the experience the whole pie has to offer. There are thousands of khachapuri recipes out there (more like 200, but in exaggeration I trust). In this particular one, I will use grated sweet(ish) Gruyere cheese, some mozzarella and feta cheese. Gruyere will give the strong cheese flavor, mozzarella will offer most of the needed umami and feta cheese will give salt and spiciness (is that even a word?). For 3 big khachapuris you will need about 1 kg of cheese mixture and it's up to you what cheese will rule in your food. I did it with 2/4 of Gruyere, 1/4 mozzarella and 1/4 feta cheese.
Next things next, open the puff pastry, cut it in half, pour some flour, take your roller and flatten it, make sure you pour flour on the carpet, chairs and walls as I did to strengthen the overall experience and you are good to go.
So we are ready for the tricky part. The crust must be filled with cheese. All I did is, take some cheese from the mixture, and make a cheese wall from the one side and one from the other as shown on left picture (which I took with flour hands, sorry my beloved camera).
This step needs a bit of care because your hungry eye will command you to put a loooot. My advice is simple. Don't listen to your eyes if you don't want unnecessary leaks of cheese through the crust. Believe me, the cheese is already too much to handle anyway.
Second major thing to watch out here is to leave space on each side, let's say about 2-3 cm, so we can give our boat the boaty shape it needs to travel to Port Stomach.
This cheese wall needs to be enclosed with the crust, so with both hands, GENTLY, take the excess puff pastry and fold the cheese line until it's firm. This step needs to be done in the other side as well. You need to take good care of those "tubes" so they go underneath the cheese. The concept is to trap it inside the crust. If we are done here, the rest is really easy. Just take the sides and give them a spin or two to make sure no water gets into our boat (ye, i'm so funny goddammit!). Fill our khachapuri - wannabe with the rest of the mixture but again not too much. Cheese will take some more space when it melts and we need a little bit of room so we can add the egg later. Take an oven pan, put some baking paper on it, and with extra care take the khachapuris and place them on it. If you want to show off your culinary skills, do the whole process on a baking paper from the beginning. You just transfer the baking paper on the pan and not your actual product alone. If not, I don't know, do it with the help of a big spatula, or some friends of just Wingardium Leviosa it, if you know where to intonate of course.
Bake in the oven on high heat, around 220 Celsius (which equals some more Fahrenheit I suppose) for 15 minutes, until the crust gets golden and the cheese melts. If we are good at that point, drag the pan out, pour an #egg in all khachapuris, drizzle some more cheese on it,
because why not and take it back in the oven for an additional 3 minutes. Help the cheese with a fork if it has gain some volume, so it lowers a bit and lets room for the egg. I wrote 3 minutes and I mean literally 3 minutes. Not 2, not 4. We need the egg to be watery and jiggly when we take the pan out again. Add two teaspoons of butter on each item, cayenne or spicy pepper seeds and voila. We are done!
Let's check how to eat it. Graciously cut one edge with your fingers and while hot, stick it in the melted butter and cheese.Stir with the crust to mix all of the juicy stuff with the "not done yet" egg and make a Heavenly mixture. Eat the edge now! When both edges are gone, get the rest of the job done the way you like.
If you are reading this post, probably I am gone by now. I ate 2 of those in one sitting and angels already talk to me. Death rung my bell. But know something, I fell no regrets for that. And know something else. Never end your recipe with the word "Death". Never. Just don't.
Puff pastry (grab one with 2 sheets)
3 tspn butter (unsalted, because reasons)
1 kg grated cheese mixture (Gruyere, Mozzarella, Feta cheese)
Salt - Pepper