I never tire of quiche – eating it, trying new recipes and techniques, and serving it to appreciative house guests at the holidays, when all smart cooks are looking for dishes that don’t require us to putter, hover, or stick to a hard and fast meal timetable. Quiche is just the ticket.
Of course, there’s always the issue of what to put IN your quiche – a delicious dilemma if there ever was one.
Let me give you a tip, gleaned from the front lines of quiche making for many years now: bacon. Our vegetarian friends notwithstanding, if you put bacon in it, they’ll eat it. Bacon is to quiche what George Clooney is to the box office: a guaranteed draw.
Beyond bacon, let’s consider the custard. In a word, it should be rich. Quiche – especially around the holidays – is not meant to be a lesson in dietary restraint or correctness. Rather, a good quiche is a champion of the dairy industry and no recipe worth its salt (we’ll get to that in a moment) contains the words lowfat, skim, or canola.
Indeed, our Swiss chard quiche incorporates both heavy cream and sour cream, 5 large eggs, butter, and a goodly amount of Havarti cheese. You need only be concerned about your heart if you have no plans to share this quiche with 8 to 10 family members or friends, as intended.
Concerning the custard, I don’t always use it, but I find that a bit of flour in the custard does make for a nice “tight” filling – one with a certain textural compactness that yields good clean cuts. In case you’re wondering, there’s no residual floury taste or texture, so no need to be concerned about that.
All this richness does benefit from a strategic pairing with sauteed onions and something green. Broccoli is fine, if a bit predictable. I adore sauteed brussels sprouts, though the number of their constituents is never certain. So I like to go leafy: sauteed Swiss chard. Spinach is fine, too. Both add color, texture, contrast, and interest.
I mentioned salt earlier, so let me include a brief admonition to not not skimp. A dense, rich custard will taste flat without enough of it. Especially if the quiche is served lukewarm, at room temperature, or even cold, as it often is.
My pastry? For quiche, I like to use an all butter crust like the one here. And yes, I always prebake it so the bottom crust doesn’t get all soggy – an absolute buzz kill where quiche is concerned. Feel free to use any of the pie doughs that I’ve recommended in the past, but if you’re game to try a good all-butter crust, consider the one here.
I’ve incorporated a couple of little tweaks that will help keep the dough from shrinking too much – a common prebaking issue. These include the addition of a little cake flour and cider vinegar, to help tenderize the dough. Longer resting times for the dough as it chills. And a slightly different procedure for the baking itself. I’m still tinkering with this method myself, so if you do follow my cues, let me know how it works out for you.
These two photos below will give you some idea that this method has worked out pretty well for me: the first shows that the crease in the bottom of the pan has pretty much stayed intact and not shrunk or rounded off as often happens when prebaking. And the sides of the pastry – which I usually sculpt-and-pinch up above the sides of the pan, to hold more filling – have not sunk.
I should have, however, continued to bake the pastry until it was a bit more golden brown all over. This amount of time this will take depends, in part, on what type of pan you end up using – ceramic or metal.
Let me sign off by saying that I hope your holidays are shaping up wonderfully, with plenty of good food, family, and festivities on tap for the weeks ahead. Please take as much time as possible to enjoy the season and spread plenty of good cheer. And accept my heartfelt thanks for being part of The Pie Academy.
Best wishes to you.