Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Last night I was going to make bacon and eggs for dinner (because it's something all of my picky little eaters will eat), and Mark suggested quiche. Mark is a real man. Also, he is a man who very rarely suggests something for dinner, though I pester him continually for ideas, so I wanted to make sure I took his suggestion in hopes of encouraging a habit.
When was the last time you had a quiche? I don't count the little pre-packaged 1 1/2" individual bites of quiche at parties. Better yet, when was the last time you made quiche? Because while it takes a significant amount of time more than bacon and eggs, it's so worth it. Who doesn't like a pie crust added to their dinner (or breakfast, or lunch, or midnight snack)?
First, we have to talk about this crust. You should know by now that I'm crazy about pie crust, and I also go a little nuts if my crust isn't perfect. Well, I have something to admit: I've never been good about blind baking pie crusts, which is important for a quiche. (Blind baking is also known as prebaking.) In the past, my crusts have shrunk considerably. I consulted Cooks' Illustrated on the matter. Actually, I consulted The Best Recipe, a book by the authors of the incredible magazine Cooks' Illustrated. I'd read what they said before, and I reread it, and lucky me! My crust barely, barely shrank. In fact, that's why I put this not-so-pretty picture up of a two-thirds eaten quiche...I'm so excited about the crust. Do other people have this problem?
Also, I didn't want to fiddle with the crust so much. I was trying to make dinner. So I altered my method a touch, and the result was ever so flaky and delicious as always.
As for the filling, I was going for the bacon and eggs mix, remember? But I decided to add some caramelized onions as well. My bacon stock was fairly low (4 pieces), and the caramelized onions would add a lot of the same rich flavor. Plus I like onions, and I thought I could trick my kids into eating them this way. (I was right.) Other than that, there was a really good supply of sharp Cheddar cheese and the milk and cream to complete the custard.
Maybe I should mention one thing: quiche doesn't have tons of eggs in it, as you're really making a custard. It does have cream, though, and that should make you happy.
So, here's the recipe. If you follow it pretty closely, you will also have a happy evening with your family.
1 1/4 c. flour
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter, refrigerated
1/4 c. ice water (I keep a glass of water with ice handy and measure the water out just before adding)
1/4 t. vinegar
4 strips bacon, chopped
1 T. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 T. flour
2 egg yolks
2 c. milk
1 c. cream
1/2 t. salt
freshly ground black pepper
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
5 - 6 oz. grated sharp Cheddar cheese
For the crust, whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Slice the butter into about 1" wide pieces and add to the flour, then mash them into the flour a bit using a fork. After about 30 seconds of this, use the heel of your hand to smash the dough flat, making sure to keep your hand floured. Smash, then turn, smash then turn, making sure all of the butter pieces are flat. Do this quickly, and in only about 4-6 turns, so as not to warm the dough. Combine the vinegar and water; add to the dough, and stir together with the fork, until fairly evenly wet, then place in the freezer for five minutes.
Remove the dough from the freezer and quickly pull it together into one ball, then flatten into a disc. Flour a working surface and both sides of the dough, then gently roll out. Carefully transfer it to your pie dish and form the edges. Place in the refrigerator. Refrigerate for 30-40 minutes, whatever you have time for. This resting period in the refrigerator helps the elasticity in the dough to relax in the shape you've molded, rather than waiting to spring back to the ball of nothing it was when you started.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly prick the pie dough. Line the pie with extra wide, heavy duty foil, or two sheets of regular foil crossing in the center. Fill the foil with a pound of dry beans or pie weights and bake for 20 minutes, until the dough has mostly dried out. Remove the weights and foil and bake another 9 minutes (this is for partially baking, add another 8-10 for fully-baked dough if you're making something besides quiche).
In the meantime, set a pan over medium heat and cook the bacon until browned and a little crispy, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Remove all but just a lining of bacon grease. Add 1 T. butter, increase heat to medium high, and add the onions and a couple of pinches of salt. Cook, stirring, about 10 minutes, until lightly caramelized, reducing the heat to medium if they're cooking too fast. Taste to be sure they're properly salted. Stir in the 1 T. flour and set aside to cool to room temperature.
In a bowl, combine the eggs, yolks, milk, cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Whisk to be sure the eggs have mixed in evenly, then stir in the bacon and onions.
Once the pie dough has been removed from the oven, fill the bottom evenly with the cheese, then pour the filling on top. (I had enough left over to bake some extra in a small dish.) Place in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the center is just set, like gelatin. Remove and cool 5-10 minutes, then serve.
Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.