Observant TFD Citizens have probably noticed a distinct trend amongst my last few recipe posts – they’re all French!
Typically, TFD posts random recipes I’ve modified from all around the world, but I realized I’d been under-representing France. As one of the 3 great cuisines of the world in terms of variety, I’m fixing that tragic oversight by posting several French recipes over the next few days before shifting back to our normal format.
For today, I give you a classic quiche recipe, but not for the expected Lorraine version. I actually prefer Quiche Alsacienne, from the next-door neighbor province of Alsace.
Both Alsace and Lorraine have a long history of Germanic influence (and in fact were part of Germany on and off for several hundred years).
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word quiche was first recorded in 1805 and is probably related to the German word “Kuchen” meaning “cake” or “tart”.
Although considered a classic French dish, the quiche actually originated in Germany, which explains why Alsace and Lorraine are the two provinces famous for quiche.
In France, there are three types of quiche: Lorraine, made with bacon (lardons) only; Vosgienne, with bacon and cheese, and Alsacienne, with bacon, onions and cheese. The French are EXTREMELY protective of these distinctions.
There is even a “Syndicat National de Défense et de Promotion de l’Authentique Quiche Lorraine” (National Society for the Protection and Promotion of the Authentic Quiche Lorraine) that says that an authentic Quiche Lorraine may only contain shortcrust pastry, egg, bacon, crême fraîche, pepper and nutmeg.
Quiche Alsaciennce traditionally doesn’t use bacon but Speck, an herbed form of pork leg. A leg of pork is deboned and divided into large sections called “baffe”, and then cured in salt and various spice combination which may include garlic, bay leaves, juniper berries, nutmeg, and other spices, and then rested for a period of several weeks. After this, it is cold-smoked over Beech wood.
Since Speck is hardly ever found in the U.S., I’ve substituted bacon with the appropriate herbs and spices. For the primary quiche recipe, I’ve cribbed the superb recipe from master Chef Thomas Keller as my base.
Citizens, I urge you to try this recipe and know what true quiche is really all about!
Battle on (and Vive La France!) – The Generalissimo
For the Pastry Shell
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp sea salt
1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter, unsalted, cut into ¼ inch pieces
¼ cup ice water
Canola oil to oil the pan
For the Batter
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
6 large eggs
1 Tbsp sea salt
¼ tsp white pepper, freshly ground
⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
⅛ teaspoon powdered bay leaves
⅛ teaspoon powdered Juniper berries
9 gratings fresh nutmeg
For the Filling:
1 lb slab bacon cut into ⅜ inch lardons
2 cups onion confit (see recipe below)
¾ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
½ cup shredded Comté cheese (Gruyere is a suitable substitute)
For The Onion Confit:
2 large Spanish white onions, sliced lengthwise ¼ inch thick
1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter
¼ cup water
1-¼ tsp Kosher salt
1 sachet garni
Onion Confit Instructions:
Warm the water in a large pot over low heat. Add the butter and whisk gently to melt.
Add onions, salt and sachet garni. Toss to coat onions with butter.
Prepare and place a parchment paper lid on top, pressing it firmly down on onions to allow the steam to escape but protect onions so that they can cook low and slow.
After 30 minutes check onions and stir. If the pot swallows the onions, you may want to move them to a more appropriately sized pot. Also, if there is a lot of liquid remaining in the pot, you may want to increase the heat for the onions to cook a little more rapidly.
Continue to cook onions over low heat for another 1-½ hours stirring them every 20 – 30 minutes replacing the parchment lid and pressing down on the onions each time. Toward the end you may be stirring the onions a little more frequently. You do NOT want them to brown.
After roughly 2 hours, the onions will have softened but should not be falling apart. There may also be a small amount of liquid remaining in the bottom of the pan. Remove the onions from the heat, discard the sachet garni, and allow the onions to cool in their liquid.
When cool place in a plastic container and refrigerate until needed for up to 1 week.
For the Quiche Pastry:
Place 1 cup of flour and the salt in a heavy duty mixer with the paddle attachment.
Turn mixer on low and add butter 1 small handful at a time.
Once the butter is completely added, turn mixer to medium and mix until butter is completely mixed with the flour.
Now, reduce speed, add the remaining cup of flour to the bowl and mix to combine.
Next, add the water, and mix to completely incorporate. The dough should come around the paddle and feel smooth to the touch, not sticky.
Remove the dough from the bowl and mold into 6 inch round. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 day.
The purpose for such a long refrigeration time is to allow the dough to rest. The longer the dough rests, the less shrinkage there will be when you bake the shell.
After allowing the dough to rest, lightly flour a surface.
Roll out the dough until it is roughly 3/16 inch thick.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled 9 inch spring form pan and mold dough to fit pan pressing gently around the sides and the edges of the pan leaving the excess to drape over the top to help prevent shrinkage when baking.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut a 14 inch parchment round and line pastry shell with parchment round. Fill pastry shell with beans.
Place the pastry shell in the oven and bake for 50 – 65 minutes until the sides are brown and the bottom is a rich, golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
For the Filling:
While the pastry shell is cooling, bake the lardons in a 375 F oven.
You want to bake the lardons long enough to render the fat, not until it is crispy. When done, remove the lardons to a paper towel to drain.
Next, add the lardons, thyme, onion confit, salt and pepper to a large skillet and cook until warmed throughout.
For the Batter:
While the pastry shell is cooling and the lardons are cooking, make the batter. Combine the cream and milk in a sauce pot and scald over medium heat. Let cool for 15 minutes.
Add the eggs, cream mixture, nutmeg, garlic powder, powdered bay, juniper, salt and pepper in a blender.
If you don’t have a large blender, prepare the batter in 2 batches, one for the first layer and the second batch for the second layer of the quiche. Start blending at a low speed for 5 seconds and increase to high speed for 30 – 60 seconds. You want a very frothy, light batter.
Set aside until ready to use. If it sits for over 5 minutes, re-blend for a few seconds.
Take ½ of the filling and place in the bottom of the pastry shell, covering the shell evenly. Put ½ of the grated comte cheese on top.
Now, pour ½ of the batter over the filling.
Add the remaining filling.
Add most of the batter over the filling and top with the remaining cheese.
Take quiche to the oven, place on a rack and pour the remaining batter into the center of the quiche to fill the shell to the top.
Bake at 325 F for 1-½ to 1-¾ hours until the top is nicely browned and the custard is set when when the pan jiggled. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
When cooled, place quiche in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 days.
After 1 day, trim crust away from pan. Insert a knife and slide around rim of pan to ensure the pastry shell does not stick.
Remove from spring form pan. Slice into 8 slices. Place slices on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake at 375 F for 15 minutes or until warmed through. To check, insert a skewer in the middle of one side and slide it to the back. Rub the skewer on the skin immediately underneath your lower lip.