Why you should care

This could be your next global “drunk food” discovery.

Wandering the cobblestone streets of Tbilisi, Georgia, my friends and I stumbled, a little tipsy, across the holy grail. That is, the holy grail of drunk junk food. Upside: Khachapuri — otherwise known as Georgian pizza — is a boatload of wood-fired doughy goodness. Downside: Eating this gut-bombing cheesy bread brings you one step closer to a heart attack. May your soul rest in peace after consuming this culinary killer.

Maybe it was my jet lag, or perhaps it was the exhaustion of trudging through knee-high snow in the Caucasus Mountains. But khachapuri makes a Meat Lover’s Pizza look like carrot sticks. Hailing from the little-known country of Georgia in Eastern Europe, this quintessential dish is the most sinful of breads — a rich mixture of melted brined cheese and glistening grass-fed butter, all inside a fluffy gluten vessel that would put New England’s clam chowder bread bowls to shame. The best part? Right before the cheesy bread is served, a couple of eggs are cracked and stirred into the piping-hot mixture of cheese and butter. Cue the salivating.

You can never go wrong with cheese and bread.

Georgian chef Lali Ghlonti

Khachapuri can be eaten for any meal of the day, but it’s best devoured under these two conditions: 1) at an ungodly hour, and 2) in the throes of hunger. Stroll through downtown Tbilisi and you’ll see late-night revelers rejoicing. No wonder — they’re cozying up with a platter of khachapuri fit for a king, having knocked back a couple cups of chacha, the home-brewed brandy of Georgia. The warmth and fatty delight of khachapuri is just what the body needs in the middle of a cold Caucasus winter. Khachapuri comes baked, fried or boiled, but the latter two iterations are much less common and largely forgotten in Georgia. You might think it’s too much for your stomach to handle now, but decades ago, these breads were served with sour cream or sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, says Lali Ghlonti, a Georgian chef based in San Francisco. “But you can never go wrong with cheese and bread,” she says.

The culinary Georgian tradition of holding heavy feasts, or supras, might be gaining ground in the U.S. An oft-overlooked cuisine, Georgian food has gained a tasty foothold in restaurants from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco in the past few years, and khachapuri is the gateway drug, says Ghlonti. Once you try it, there’s no going back — mostly because you’ll be keeling over from the calorie explosion. But if you dare risk your arteries, here’s a family recipe from Ghlonti for your delicious self-destruction.

Ingredients

  • Flour (9 oz = 250 g)
  • Dry yeast (0.1 oz = 2 g)
  • Salt (0.2 oz = 5 g)
  • Water (2.8 oz = 80 g)
  • Canola oil (0.4 oz = 10 g)
  • Mozzarella and feta (11 oz = 300 g of each). (Ghlonti says, ”the U.S doesn’t import sulguni, a pickled cheese from Georgia’s Samegrelo region. Instead, I prefer half mozzarella and half French feta for a substitute.”)
  • Melted butter (0.4 oz = 10 g)

Directions

Mix together flour, yeast, salt, water and oil. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes until the dough slightly rises. Mix again, and place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Watch how to do the rest in this video.

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