The Ultimate Quiche
My husband is very opinionated when it comes to quiche. Very opinionated. Whenever we are in a restaurant and see quiche on the menu, I think “there’s a nice light lunch!” but my husband invariably begins his tirade on “that’s not real quiche”. Needless to say, neither of us orders the quiche.
I’ve heard it a thousand times. He feels that America has done a grave injustice to quiche with their California-style healthy recipes. Kale Quinoa Quiche? A sacrilege! In his world, the gold standard is a classic, savory Quiche Lorraine – thick, meaty, and cheesy.
I have to admit, he’s got a point. In the Lorraine region of France where Quiche Lorraine originated, the cuisine is influenced by its neighboring countries of Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. The region is famous for its mineral deposits, especially iron ore and coal, and the workers in those mines needed a sustaining lunch. Classic Quiche Lorraine certainly fits the bill. What’s best is that it can be eaten right out of the oven or at room temperature.
Quiche Lorraine is basically an open custard pastry that is filled with eggs, cream and lardons. Although you will find many recipes that suggest bacon as a substitute for the lardons, I find bacon too salty, smoky and stringy. The most flavorful alternative I’ve found is diced pancetta, easily available in Berkshire markets and very similar to lardons. I keep a few packages in my freezer to use when I get the urge for a delicious quiche.
The ingredients in Quiche Lorraine make it a great recipe for breakfast, lunch or dinner! This recipe is extremely easy to make, and keeps well in the fridge for several days. Just pop a slice in the microwave or place in a 300 degree oven to reheat. Because the crust is “blind baked” (baked first without the filling) you can blind bake the crust up to a couple days in advance and store it at room temperature.
Pillsbury Pie Crust (you will use ½ of the package)
5 ounces pancetta
Extra virgin olive oil (optional)
½ large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon flour
3 eggs, plus 1 yolk
1½ cups heavy cream (or ¾ cup milk, ¾ cup heavy cream)
½ teaspoon each salt and pepper
6 ounce package of shredded Swiss cheese
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a 9 inch pie pan with nonstick spray and place one pie crust into the pan. You might want to fold over the edge of the crust, but don’t tuck it down too much, because the crust will shrink while you are baking it, and you don’t want the level of the crust lower than the filling. Be careful to patch up any cracks in the dough. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork then freeze it for 30 minutes.
Line the crust with a sheet of parchment paper. Fill the parchment paper with something to hold it down and prevent the crust from puffing up, such as dry (uncooked) beans or pie weights. Make sure the weights are nestled against the sides of the pan. Bake the crust for 20 minutes, then carefully remove the parchment paper and weights. Continue baking for an additional 15 minutes. The crust should be a light golden brown. When done, set aside so that the crust can cool down a bit before filling.
While the crust is blind baking, sauté the pancetta until slightly browned and a little crisp. The pancetta should be fatty enough that you don’t need any additional oil, but if it begins to stick, just add a tiny bit of oil to the pan. When done, remove the cooked pancetta onto a plate and set aside, leaving 2 tablespoons of fat in the pan. Add more oil, if necessary.
Sauté your onion in the pancetta fat until translucent, but not browned. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir to combine. The flour will help to thicken the quiche. Stir the cooked pancetta into the onion and aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and yolk, cream, salt and pepper. Sprinkle a little of the shredded cheese onto the bottom of your baked crust, top with the pancetta/onion mixture, then slowly pour the egg mixture over the top. Top with the remaining cheese.
To bake, first place the pie pan onto a baking sheet, just in case it sloshes a little on its way to the oven. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the edges are set, and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. If necessary, cover the edges of the crust with foil to prevent burning.
Although this WILL digress from the classic Quiche Lorraine recipe, (don’t tell my husband!) you can change the recipe by substituting other shredded cheeses, such as Italian Blend. The recipe is also delicious if you add a cup-and-a-half of chopped greens such as spinach, arugula, watercress (or dare I say, kale?) to the custard.