When I first moved to New York, I was amazed at how everyone here got bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches from the corner deli for breakfast. It was a thing. An established thing. A mostly weekend, thing, but you get the point. And here I was unaware of this thing, as I was with Bialys. I never had Bialys. I didn’t grow up with Bialys. And, I didn’t grow up with bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches. Clearly I missed out on some things earlier in life.
The point is this: the combination of salty, cured pork, egg, cheese, and starch is a world unto itself. And, the classic quiche Lorraine is part of that world. Oh, that beautiful, beautiful world.
As the name suggests, quiche Lorraine comes from the Lorraine region of France/Germany. I use the slash, because while the Lorraine region is part of France today, it has, over its long history, gone back and forth between French and German ownership. In fact, quiche is originally a German dish which was adopted and now is mostly associated with French cuisine. As such, it is one of the standards of bistro fare, invariable served with a green salad in the cafes of France.
For this lovely, light quiche Lorraine, we used the following ingredients:
1 1/2 c flour
6 Tbs. cold butter
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 cup creme fraiche
5 slices thick cut bacon
1/2 lb. Comté cheese, grated
For the crust:
While I normally make dough by hand, I use a food processor for this crust. The reason is that it is much easier the cut up the butter while incorporating it with the rest of the dough at the same time in a food processor. And, this makes making a crust so easy, that you should never have an excuse for not whipping up a quick crust for your tarts, quiches, etc. This is my go-to recipe that I use for many different fillings. Simply put everything into your food processor and pulse it until you have a crumbly mixture. This should only take about a minute or so. If your dough is too dry, add a bit more olive oil. Never add more water, it will make your dough hard after baking.
When you’re done pulsing, be aware that your dough is not going to be a cohesive ball, but rather a dry, crumbly pile of stuff. This is exactly what you want. I pour out the contents of the food processor bowl onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and shape the dough in a ball with my hands. It should hold together every so slightly. Once you have a ball, place this in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Now is a good time to preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Now mix up your custard. I start by rendering the bacon slices. I used very thick cut, cured bacon from our local market. Traditionally, quiche calls for “lardons” which are thick cubes of pork fat (with a little meat on them) that are everywhere in French cuisine. Thick bacon is essentially the same thing. Once you bacon is cooked, set it aside on a paper towel to drain.
In a bowl, combine eggs, creme fraiche (I use homemade, for which we posted a recipe here), grated cheese (although, save a bit for the top), herbs, a pinch of nutmeg, and salt and pepper. This is your basic custard. I then cut up the cooked bacon into small pieces and mix into the custard. Creme fraiche is an important ingredient here, it’s what makes your quiche light and fluffy. If you see a recipe that calls for milk or regular cream, just walk away. Go for the creme fraiche, you will not regret it. The texture of the cooked custard will be exactly what you’re looking for in a quiche: soft, delicate, light, fluffy.
As far as quiche goes, you don’t need to get more complicated than this. The favors of simplicity, here, are astounding. Before adding onion, mushroom, broccoli, and a litany of other vegetables to your quiche, try it out as a basic recipe. You may never go back to those overcomplicated vegetable pies.
Once your custard is ready, take your dough ball out of the fridge, roll out and place in a tart pan. This dough almost invariably will crumble apart and you have to work it with your hands. This is okay. This is what you want. You are not going to have the perfect, once piece pie crust that you get from the frozen food aisle. But, you will also always have an amazing crust with great, soft, almost ephemeral texture.
Pour your custard into the shaped crust, and top with a bit extra grated Comté. Then, bake in a 375 degree oven until the top is brown and a knife comes out clean.
The hardest part of quiche: you must let it sit before slicing into it. The eggs need to set completely. The crust needs to set completely. Walk away. Leave the house. Run some errands. Take the dog out. Clean the bathroom. Do some laundry. I don’t care what you do, but resist the urge to cut into the quiche immediately. Let it set for at least 30 minutes before you cut into it. You will get better slices and less hassle.
As is tradition, serve your quiche with a simple green salad with homemade vinaigrette. It’s also good to have with some fresh fruit.
As Fall begins, it’s a great time to invite your friends over for a hearty season welcoming brunch. I can guarantee they will love this dish.