I’ve spoken before on the wonderful ability of eggs to bind together various leftovers, whether in a scramble or an omelet. But recently, my favorite egg-based application is the quiche, and after a few trial runs, I feel like I’ve got my technique pretty much down pat.
First of all, I admit, I use pre-made, store-bought, frozen pie crusts. Yes, that’s arguably cheating, but until I get the hang of making a crust from scratch — and there will be a post on that, when it happens — I prefer to focus on the payload instead of the delivery system.
So with that said, I like a 9″ deep crust. You’ll also need two eggs and a cup of half-and-half, plus whatever goodies you’re putting into the quiche itself. If you’re making a dinner quiche, set your crust to thaw in the refigerator that morning; for a breakfast quiche, start it thawing the night before. When you’re ready to start your preparation, go ahead and get the crust out and let it start coming to room temperature, along with your eggs.
Now, a word about those goodies. As a starting point, if you’ve never made a quiche before, I’d say take your favorite omelet fillings — and if you’ve been following this blog for awhile, hopefully you’ve got some m@d l33t omelet skillz0r5 — and try them in a quiche. Really, anything that you’d put in an omelet, a quiche can handle. You’ll want to think in larger portions, since the quiche just has to bind all those goodies together, but doesn’t have to safely enfold them.
(Theoretically, the relationship also works in reverse — any set of quiche fillings can be used in an omelet. The counter-example suggested by a long-time reader is broccoli and cheese, and yeah, I’m not sure how well that would work in an omelet.)
The quiche has another major advantage over its crustless, trifold cousin: while an omelet cooks quickly, a quiche takes over an hour, between baking and resting. So you can be doing other things once the quiche is in the oven, while omelets demand more continual attention. As faithful readers know, I’m a huge proponent of multitasking, so at least at the moment I prefer making quiches to omelets.
Now, that being said, I don’t advocate tossing raw meat or an entire crudités platter into your quiche. You still want all the fillings to be cooked through, and warm (but not hot) when they meet up with your eggs and dairy. If you’re using aromatic veggies — and why wouldn’t you? — then I really recommend sweating them as thoroughly as you can, just so you don’t end up with a soggy-crusted, watery quiche.
By the way, while you’re sweating those aromatics? That’s a great time to start the oven preheating to 400 degrees. Also, if you’re adding meat, you may want to cook it through first, then sweat with whatever fat rendered out. You’ll want to drain both meat and veg before adding them to the crust, because just as you don’t want a soggy crust, you don’t want a lake of oil in the quiche, either.
Of course, you can take out a bit of insurance against a soggy crust by sprinkling some of your cheese (oh, sorry, were you planning a quiche without cheese? Yeah, that’s not happening) into the crust while it’s coming up to room temperature. Also, if you’re planning to use garlic (and again, why wouldn’t you?) I’d recommend dicing it up and just sprinkling it into the crust raw. Finely diced garlic doesn’t take long at all to cook, and you REALLY don’t want to overcook garlic. That’s like crossing the streams, but without the positive side-effect of banishing Gozer. Anyway, the other ingredients will easily cook the garlic when they settle atop it.
Okay, when your filling goodies are cooked through, set the aside to cool for a few minutes. In the meantime, measure out that cup of half-and-half, add the eggs, and whisk; I like doing this in a pint measuring cup, preferably one with a spout. When your other ingredients have cooled to comfortable handle-with-fingers temperature, start adding them to the crust. I like alternating layers of cheese and other fillings, let the warm ingredients get a head start on melting the cheese.
Once all your filling ingredients have been added, it’s time to SLOWLY pour in the eggs and dairy, letting it percolate through all the layers. If you just dump it in, you’ll (a) probably end up with spillage, and (b) create air bubbles. Y’know what happens when you heat an air pocket? So yeah, pour slowly. Give the pie pan a gentle jiggle to make sure everything’s settled in, then slide into an aluminum baking sheet and into your 400 degree oven.
Set your timer for 45 minutes, then do the ‘knife test’ for doneness. It’ll probably come out a little wet, but otherwise clean. At this point, kill the oven and allow the hot air to escape, then close the door and leave the quiche alone for another 10 minutes. At that point, pull from the oven and allow to rest on the counter for, yes, another 10 minutes.
Okay, your quiche is rested, and should be nicely set at this point. Keep in mind that, like any pie the first slice probably isn’t going to come out cleanly. Just accept it, the first slide or two will be ugly. Once you’ve got a little more clearance and can get your pie server underneath a slice from the side, you’ll have better luck.
By the way, that combination of eggs and dairy? That’s what the French call a “royale”. Which means, yes, you’ve just made a “royale with cheese”. And you didn’t even have to recover a glowing MacGuffin.