Sunday, December 13, 2009

Seriously Good Quiche

Quiche, really? The doubtful audience could easily question how ho-hum quiche sounds. And hell, I'm right there with you. I grew up with my mom's quiche lorraine. As classic a recipe as a Southern girl could make it, it was fine, but simply the same recipe. Over and over and over again.

But, when brunch plans started falling into place for this afternoon, at another awesome Emily's home just a few blocks away, quiche just sort of happened. Ok, well, what really happened were seriously good boozy cupcakes. (Honestly, make these now. They work for all occasions, from brunch to birthday to the holidays. Who doesn't need liquor during the holidays?) I made it in cake form for Katie's birthday back in early October and the recipe has been on the brain since. I offered to make them again, and voila brunch plans with the three of us, plus a few more.

So, you know, we needed some real food before the cupcakery. And, with a random Pillsbury pie dough sitting in the freezer from Thanksgiving, along with the general affordability of eggs, quiche it was. On a Smitten Kitchen kick (seriously, I love this lady), I perused her site and discovered a few quiches. The richness of the one I picked, though, just seemed to be a winner.

This quiche sort of knocked my socks off... It was incredibly custardy, rich and delicious. I loved the flavor tweaks I made (acorn squash and bacon, yum!) and it was quite easily my favorite quiche ever. I have a feeling the richness and slight looseness of the quiche was from the squash puree. Also, I did not par bake my crust, but I recommend doing so unless you're going to make the homemade crust from the original recipe.

Seriously Good Quiche
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 cups diced leeks, white and light green only (from about 3 large leeks)
1/2 cup diced onion
3 slices meaty bacon
1 tbsp rendered bacon fat (or olive oil)
3 eggs
1/2 cup squash puree - any sort of winter squash.
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch pepper
1-2 stems fresh thyme
3/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Dice the bacon into, um, pinky wide pieces? (Just make em squares somehow, it's fine!) and render in a large sauté pan (non-nonstick prefered) on low heat. Cook until a bit crisp but not well done, medium in color. Drain the pieces on a paper towel lined plate, reserving a tablespoon of fat, enough to coat the pan. In same pan, on low heat, sauté the leeks and onions in the olive oil 30 to 40 minutes until caramelized, occasionally stirring. Remove from heat and cool.

While that mixture is cooking, roll your prepared pie dough out into a greased and floured pie pan. I let it chill 30 minutes in the fridge. But, if I make this quiche again with crust that's not the recipe Smitten gave, I would parbake as directed in another SK quiche recipe.

For the filling, I roasted a small acorn squash in the oven, and then pureed it with a small amount of milk. I pushed the puree through a sieve to catch anything my blender couldn't handle. Then, add the puree back to your still dirty blender, add the sour cream, heavy cream, eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg and thyme. Blend until incorporated.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the leek and onion mixture evenly over the base, add the bacon and then the cheese. Pour in the batter and place the quiche in the oven. The original recipe said it would take 25-30 minutes, but I probably ended up baking it for an hour - I originally underbaked it last night - the center was still soft. When I arrived to Emily's place, I put it in the oven for another 15 minutes at 350, 15 at 375. My crust never got too golden, thus why I think parbaking is necessary unless you're making the original recipe's homemade crust.

Notes: I can easily see this working with low fat greek yogurt instead of sour cream (sour cream that's been sitting in my fridge for a bit too long to admit) and also crustless if desired. I'd definitely consider it more of a "savory custard" if crustless. Also, this could be made incredibly easy by using the canned butternut squash or pumpkin puree, if desired!

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