- 2 large Spanish onions, thinly sliced
- canola oil as needed
- 1 3-2-1 savory pie dough (see recipe above)
- 1 pound slab bacon cut into 1/4-inch lardons*
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup cream
- 6 eggs
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- nutmeg to taste (about 5 gratings)
- 1/2 cup grated Compté or Emanthaller cheese
The quiche has been misunderstood in America since it crossed the Atlantic from France and tried to fit itself into pie shell. A proper quiche shell must be deep enough to allow you to cook the custard properly, which is why it is traditionally cooked in a 2-inch by 9-inch ring mold. Ring molds are inexpensive and can be found in many kitchenware stores, but you might also use a 2-inch cake pan provided you line the bottom with parchment paper. If you cook a custard in a pie shell, even if you cook it perfectly and don't overcook it — which is easy to do — when it's so thin, the custard is too shallow to offer its fundamental pleasure, which is a luxurious texture.
A quiche can be garnished inside with anything that goes well with eggs. Traditional garnishes include spinach and mushrooms, but you might just as easily replace those with roasted poblano peppers and Mexican chorizo. Cheese is usually a component, and for the former, you'd use a Compte or similar cheese, but for the latter you might use Jack cheese.
I learned how to make quiche while working on the Bouchon cookbook with Thomas Keller, Jeffrey Cerciello and Susie Heller. I've made many quiches since then, and done all I could to elevate the quiche to its proper status in the American home kitchen. It's an extraordinary dish. It can be made a day or more ahead of serving it. It can be served hot or cold, and can be served for any meal of the day, breakfast, lunch, dinner or late-night supper.
The recipe below is for a classical quiche Lorraine, which designates a bacon and onion garnish, my favorite quiche.
Saute the onions over medium heat in a few tablespoons of canola oil. You might cover them for the first 15 minutes to get them steaming and releasing their moisture, then uncover, reduce the heat to medium low and continue cooking them until they are cooked down but not overly brown, about 45 minutes to an hour. Set them aside when they're finished.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Place a 2-x-9-inch ring mold or a 9-inch cake pan on a baking sheet (line baking sheet with parchment if you're using a ring mold; if you're using a cake pan, line its bottom with parchment). Lightly oil the inside of your ring mold. Lay the dough into the mold — there should be plenty of dough overhanging the edges to help it maintain its shape.
Reserve a small piece of dough to fill any cracks that might open in the dough as it bakes. Line the dough with parchment or foil and fill it with dried beans or pie weights so that the crust bakes flat. After a half hour, remove the weights and parchment or foil. Gently patch any cracks that may have formed with the reserved dough, and continue baking until the bottom of the crust is golden and cooked, about 15 more minutes. Remove it from the oven and patch any cracks that may have opened; this is especially important if you're using a ring mold, or the batter will leak out. The shell should be anywhere between cold and warm when you add the batter, not piping hot from the oven.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Saute the bacon gently until it's cooked as you like it (crisp on the outside, tender on the inside is best!). Drain the bacon and combine it with the onions.
In a six- or eight-cup liquid measure, combine the milk, cream, eggs, salt, pepper and nutmeg and, using a hand blender, blend until frothy. This can be done in a standing blender as well (though depending on the size of your blender, you may need to divide the quantities in half). Or you could even mix the batter in a large bowl using a whisk (beat the eggs first, then add the rest of the ingredients. The idea will be to add the ingredients in two layers, using the froth to help keep the ingredients suspended.
Layer half of the onion-bacon mixture into the shell. Pour half the frothy custard over the mixture. Sprinkle with half the cheese. Layer with the remaining onion-bacon mixture. Refroth the batter and pour the rest into the shell. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. You may want to put the tray with the quiche shell into the oven and pour the remaining batter into it there so that you can get every bit of batter into the shell. You can even let it overflow to make sure it's up to the very top. Bake in the 325 degree oven for about an hour and a half, or until the center is just set (it may take as long as two hours, but don't overcook itthere should still be some jiggle in the center).
Allow the quiche to cool, then refrigerate it until it's completely chilled, eight hours or up to three days.
Using a sharp knife, cut the top of the crust off along the rim. Slide the knife along the edge of the ring mold or cake pan to remove the quiche.
Slice and serve cold, or, to serve hot, slice and reheat for ten minutes in a 375 degree oven on lightly oiled parchment or foil.
* Lardons are batons of bacon and can be as thick as 1/2-inch square. Smaller lardons are best here, but a pound of thick-cut bacon sliced into strips is also acceptable.
This recipe has not been tested by NPR.