Friday, February 19, 2016

Classic Quiche Lorraine

I love quiche. From the first time my mother made it, I've been hooked. There's just something about it...with its creamy custard encased in a flaky crust...studded with salty and savory morsels... It manages to hit most of my favorite taste and texture buttons.

For some reason my mother never varied from Quiche Lorraine...that classic with nothing but egg custard, bacon and, more often than not, cheese. I, on the other hand, have branched way out from this original....adding to the custard fillings varying from just caramelized asparagus and Gruyè kale and ham....and beyond.... Quiche is one of my favorite blank canvases (right up there with pasta and pizza crust) upon which to improvise with the bounty of each season. 

The variety of possibility is probably why it has been years since I made that original favorite of my childhood. But recently, it came to mind when I was putting together some food to take to a friend. It struck me as just the thing for a "make ahead" weekend breakfast dish: bacon & eggs... bread... Perfect. All I needed to add was a fruit salad....and maybe some muffins or a quick bread (I think you should always have something sweet with your breakfast...). And as I was making it, suddenly I wanted to make another for myself. So I did. We had it for dinner...and then enjoyed the leftovers for lunch. It was even better than I remembered it.

The recipe I use is still the same one my mother used. It is from her 1955 copy of The Good Housekeeping Cookbook and is dubbed "Superb Swiss Cheese Pie". Quiche Lorraine is included as a subheading...but at the time, I imagine Quiche Lorraine was not widely enough known to warrant a stand-alone title. But, title aside, classic Quiche Lorraine it is. It even uses the classic French custard ratio of 2 eggs for every cup of cream. 

During my lifetime quiche has become standard American fare. It had become so popular and ubiquitous by the early eighties that when a satire about what constituted American manhood was published, it was called Real Men Don't Eat Quiche. (It would be interesting to consider what food would be substituted for quiche in the title of a similar book published in our current food climate....) Fortunately, we have come to the place today that—barring a dietary restriction of some kind—I think just about everyone enjoys quiche. And if it happens that you have never had this simple classic version of custard, bacon and cheese from the Lorraine, you should definitely give it a try. It makes a perfect breakfast... or lunch... or dinner.... 

Quiche Lorraine

1/2 lb. bacon, cut crosswise in 1/4-inch strips
4 oz. coarsely grated Emmental or Gruyère
4 large eggs
2 c. heavy cream (or 1 c. milk and 1 c. heavy cream)
3/4 t. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg

1 10- to 10 1/2-inch tart shell, blind baked (Pâte Brisée recipe below)

Place the bacon in a heavy sauté pan or skillet and render over medium-low heat until crisp...stirring regularly.  Remove to a plate lined with several layers of paper towels using a slotted spoon. 

Place the eggs in a medium-sized bowl and whisk briefly to break up. Whisk in the cream until smooth.  Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg; set aside.

Build the quiche:  Place the baked tart shell on a baking sheet and scatter the bacon and cheese over the bottom of the crust.  Slowly pour the custard in. 

Be careful, all of the custard may not be necessary...any that overflows will burn when the quiche bakes.  Transfer the baking pan to a preheated 375° oven.

Bake the quiche until the filling is set (the tip of a knife slipped into the center should come out clean), slightly puffed and the surface is a light golden color—about 30 to 35 minutes.  Serves 8.

Printable Version

(Savory Tart Dough)

1 2/3 c. all-purpose flour (190g)

1/2 t. salt
10 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (142g)
3 to 5 T. ice water

Combine the flour and the salt in a medium-sized bowl. Rub the butter into the flour until the butter is in small pea-sized pieces. Drizzle 3 T. ice water over the flour/butter mixture. Using your hands, fluff the mixture until it begins to clump, adding more water if necessary. If, when you squeeze some of the mixture it holds together, the dough is finished. Turn the dough out onto a counter and form into a mound. Using the heel of your hand, gradually push all of the dough away from you in short forward strokes, flattening out the lumps. Continue until all of the dough is flat. Using a bench scraper, scrape the dough off the counter, forming it into a single clump as you do. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, pressing into a thick disk. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

To roll out, let the dough warm up for a moment or two. Butter a 10- to 10 1/2-inch removable-bottom tart pan and set it aside. Flour the work surface and the rolling pin. Begin rolling from the center of the dough outward. After each stroke, rotate the dough a quarter turn—always making sure that there is sufficient flour to keep the dough from sticking. Keep rolling and turning until you have a round of dough that is at least 13 inches in diameter and has a thickness of no more than 1/8–inch. Brush off the excess flour and fold the dough circle in half. Slide the outspread fingers of both hands under the dough and gently lift it and transfer it to the prepared tart pan. Unfold the dough and ease it into the pan being careful not to stretch it. Cut the dough off flush with the edge of the pan by pressing gently against the edge. Chill the shell for at least 1/2 hour.

To blind bake: Line the pastry with aluminum foil (dull side out) or parchment paper, pressing it into the corners and edges. Add a layer of pie weights or dried beans. Bake in a 400° oven for 25 to 30 minutes, pressing down on the weights occasionally with an oven mitt if it begins to puff up. When the pastry colors on the edges and is baked through, remove the foil and weights and continue baking until the pastry turns a golden brown...another 3 to 5 minutes.  Let cool before filling.


Emily said...

This quiche is addictive, and it takes about 15 minutes to make. Thank you, Paige, for such a wonderful blog. Happy new year! PS- If you are ever in Austin, Texas, you've got a free place to stay. :)

Paige said...

I'm so glad you like this! It is a favorite of mine. Happy New Year to you too! (And thank you for the invite...maybe someday I'll be able to take you up on it!)