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Quiche Lorraine

Quiche.  They say real men don’t eat it, but if that’s true very few men I know are “real.”

‘Cause quiche is darn good.

I have dozens of good quiche recipes in my repertoire, and all of them are very, very tasty.  But we’ll start with what is probably the best known of all quiches – quiche Lorraine.  This classic dish is a specialty of the Lorraine region of France, where it was first made as early as the sixteenth century.  In the United States, it is considered primarily a breakfast or brunch dish, but it can be served as an entrée, for lunch or an evening snack (presuming you want to go to all this trouble for an evening snack…).

Traditional quiche Lorraine contains no cheese, but I’ve never been a very traditional person, so mine contains a good Gruyère, although you can use any Swiss variety you prefer.  You can also add a half cup of caramelized onions.

Note:  Use a refrigerated pie crust if you’re so inclined; after fitting it into the pie plate and crimping the edges, pre-bake and glaze according to the following directions.  But no matter what you do, pre-bake and glaze the crust – it will keep it from getting soggy.

Quiche Lorraine

serves 4 to 6

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cold

4 tablespoons very cold butter, cut into cubes

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 -5 tablespoons ice water

1 egg yolk

pinch of salt

4 ounces thick sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 large eggs

1 cup finely shredded Gruyère cheese

1 cup half and half

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

pinch of freshly grated or ground nutmeg

Position the rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400º F.

Whisk the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Cut the shortening and butter into the dry ingredients by chopping vigorously with a pastry blender or by cutting in with 2 knives. Periodically stir dry flour up from the bottom of the bowl and scrape clinging fat off the pastry blender or knives. Some of the fat should remain in pea-sized pieces; the rest should be reduced to the consistency of coarse crumbs. The mixture should seem dry and powdery, not pasty or greasy.

Drizzle 3 tablespoons of ice water over the flour and fat mixture; using a silicone spatula, cut with the blade side until the mixture looks evenly moistened and begins to form small balls. Press down on the dough with the flat side of the spatula – if the balls of dough stick together you have added enough water; if they do not, drizzle another tablespoon of ice water over the dough. Cut in the water, again using the blade of the spatula, then press with your hands until the dough coheres. (Cut in the last tablespoon of ice water if necessary.) The dough should look rough, not smooth. Press the dough into a round, flat disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough and fit it into a 9-inch deep dish pie plate, trimming the dough 1 inch beyond the edge of the pie plate then tucking it under the edges and crimping. Refrigerate the crust for at least 10 minutes.

Smooth a sheet of aluminum foil, shiny side down, over the bottom and sides of the the crust, flaring the excess foil, like an awning, over the crust edge to keep it from overbrowning. Fill the liner with raw beans or rice, or metal pie weights, banking the weights against the sides if you do not have enough to fill the crust to the brim. Bake the crust for 20 minutes with the weights in place to set the pastry. Carefully lift out the foil with the weights inside. Prick the crust thoroughly with a fork, return it to the oven and bake until it is lightly golden brown all over, between 5 and 10 minutes.

Whisk together the egg yolk and pinch of salt and brush the inside of the crust with it. Return the crust to the oven until the egg glaze sets, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the crust, set aside and reduce the oven temperature to 375º F.

Heat a small but heavy skillet over medium high heat and cook the bacon until the fat is rendered and the bacon is just beginning to crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels and set aside.

Whisk together the eggs, half and half, cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl until well-combined.

Scatter the bacon evenly over the bottom of the prepared pie crust, then sprinkle the cheese over the bacon.  Pour the egg mixture over the bacon and cheese.

Bake until the filling is browned and set, about 35 to 40 minutes.  Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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