This is not a recipe for the casual, "I just like to throw it together" kind of cook, and certainly not one you will be whipping up in a rush on a weeknight, but if you have any interest at all in making what is likely the best quiche on the planet, I urge you to stop clicking on your mouse and hang with me here for a while.
It also is not a recipe that you can give your kids free reign over, but it does have plenty of elements that the kids can help with, and I encourage you to make them part of the process. Not only will most kids LOVE this quiche, but I think it important that we make the effort to train our next generation in the fine art of quiche making, an art that is still alive and well in Europe, but sadly died here in the States in the "real men don't eat quiche" days of the early 80's. Americanized quiches baked in factory-made, soggy pie shells, with over-cooked, curdled custards make me want to scream….our kids deserve better, don't you think?
This dish is actually not difficult to make, but as with every recipe Chef Thomas Keller creates, it IS exacting, and therein lies its brilliance. Keller is not one of those chefs who lives on the bleeding edge of culinary adventure, like Heston Blumenthal, Feran Adria, or Grant Achats. These guys make their livings pushing the edge of the envelope with regard to cooking technology and high tech ingredients, that allow them to reconstruct food in ways that leave diners giddily questioning what exactly it was they just ate.
In contrast, what Keller does better than anyone else is rip classic dishes down to their most basic elements, and then reconstruct them using only the finest ingredients, and with such a finely honed and thoughtful technique, that the end result is a dish that is instantly recognizable for what it is, but is of a quality that has been elevated almost beyond measure. When finished, you will immediately recognize this dish as a quiche, but what you will have created will make every other quiche you have tasted seem like a cheap, plastic imitation. Successfully creating this dish will not require technical wizardry on your part, but it will require a tight eye on a few key details. The rewards for your vigilance will be ample, I assure you. You game?…..Then let's go.
Boris was my right hand a few nights ago when we made this, and was a first hand witness to the ONE thing that can really go wrong when making this dish if you don't follow Keller's instructions to the letter. I had made this quiche once before and it turned out perfectly, but this time around, I rushed the making of the pastry shell and payed a steep price. I suspect that it had something to do with it being Thanksgiving week, and my having a million other things to cook, but by not working the dough long enough to ensure that all the butter was COMPLETELY incorporated into the flour (you don't want to see ANY flecks of butter in this pastry crust), my quiche sprung a leak and dumped its filling all over the bottom of my stove, requiring me to completely rework the thing the following day. What was it I was saying about respecting the details? Ughhh….
Keller is very forthcoming about the danger of this happening if you don't follow his recipe to a T, if only I had listened. Anyway, lesson learned now, I won't make that mistake again, and neither will you….right?
This recipe is written in three parts, one for the quiche pastry shell, one for the basic custard filling, and one for the specific filling for whatever type of quiche you want to make. I will include two filling recipes here, one each for Quiche Lorraine (bacon and onion), and Quiche Florentine (spinach). Bear with me here, Keller's recipes are amazing, but even in my adapted form, they are NOT short.
Adapted from: Bouchon by Thomas Keller
Basic Quiche Shell
(I make this the day before I bake a quiche)
Makes 1 nine-inch tart shell – You will need a 9-inch by 2 inch bottomless cake ring
- 2 cups flour (about 12 ounces), sifted, plus a little more for rolling
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup ice water (I needed slightly less)
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
1. Place 1 cup of the flour and the salt in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the butter a small handful at a time.
2. When all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium and mix until the butter is COMPLETELY blended with the flour. Reduce the speed, add the remaining flour and mix just to combine. (Remember you don't want to see ANY flecks of butter in the dough, as they will melt when the shell is cooked and leave holes in the shell causing potential leaks when you fill it with custard.)
3. Add the water a little at a time and mix until the dough gathers around the paddle and pulls cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. It should feel smooth, not sticky. You may not need all the water, or you may need a little more.
4. Remove the dough from the mixer and check to be certain that there are NO visible pieces of butter remaining; if necessary, return the dough to the mixer and mix briefly again. Pat the dough into a 7- to 8-inch disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to a day. (If the dough does not rest, it will shrink as it bakes.)
5. Lightly brush the inside of a 9-by-2-inch bottomless cake ring with canola oil and place it on a parchment lined jelly roll pan. Place the dough on a floured work surface and rub on all sides with flour. Flatten it into a larger circle using a rolling pin or the heel of your hand. Roll the rolling pin back and forth across the dough a few times, then turn it 90 degrees and roll again. Continue to turn and roll until the dough is one-fourth inch thick (yes, this is a fairly thick crust) and about 14 inches in diameter. (If the kitchen is hot and the dough has become very soft, move it to a baking sheet and refrigerate for a few minutes.)
6. To lift th
e dough into the tart pan, place the rolling pin across the dough about one-quarter of the way up from the bottom edge, fold the bottom edge of the dough up and over the pin, and roll the dough up on the rolling pin. Lift the dough on the pin and hold it over the pan, centering it. Carefully lower the dough into the pan, pressing it gently against the sides and into the bottom. Trim any dough that extends more than an inch over the sides of the pan and reserve the scraps. Fold the excess dough over against the outside of the ring. (Preparing the quiche shell this way will prevent it from shrinking down the sides as it bakes. The excess dough will be removed after the quiche is baked.) Carefully check for any cracks or holes in the dough, and patch with the reserved dough as necessary. Place in the refrigerator or freezer for at least 20 minutes to re-solidify the butter. Reserve the remaining dough scraps.
7. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Line the quiche shell with a 15-inch round of parchment paper. Fill the shell with pie weights or dried beans, gently guiding the weights into the corners of the shell and filling the shell completely. Bake the shell until the edges of the dough are lightly browned but the bottom is still light in color, 35 to 45 minutes.
8. Carefully remove the parchment and weights. Check the dough for any new cracks or holes and patch with thin pieces of the reserved dough if necessary. Return the shell to the oven until the bottom is a rich golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the shell to cool completely on the jellyroll pan. Once again, check the dough for any cracks or holes, and patch if necessary before filling with the quiche batter.
Filling for Quiche Lorraine:
- 1 lb slab bacon cut into lardons
- 2 cups onion confit (cook 2 1/2 lbs sliced onions, 1/4 cup water, 8 T butter, 1 1/2 tsp salt and 2 bay leaves, very slowly in a heavy bottomed pan over low heat, covered with parchment, stirring every 20 to 30 minutes for about 2 hours. The onions should get very soft, but not take on any color.)
- 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoons black pepper
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 3/4 cup grated comte, emmentaler, or gruyere cheese
- Preheat oven to 375℉.
- Spread bacon on baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until fat has rendered. It will not be crisp. Drain on paper towels and reduce oven temp to 325℉.
- Combine onion confit with bacon in large saute pan over medium heat. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme, stir together until warm, 3 – 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels, reserve until ready to build and bake your quiche.
Filling for Quiche Florentine:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 1 pound spinach, large stems removed, thoroughly washed
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup grated comte, emmentaler, or gruyere cheese
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes, add the spinach, salt and pepper and cook for two minutes more, until the spinach has wilted. Remove spinach from pan and drain on paper towels, reserve until ready to build and bake your quiche.
Basic Quiche Custard
Makes enough for 1 nine-inch quiche that serves 8 -10
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 6 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 6 gratings fresh nutmeg
1. Combine the milk and cream in a large saucepan and heat over medium heat until scalded (meaning a skin begins to form on the surface). Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly, 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Put 3 eggs, half the milk and cream mixture, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and 3 gratings of nutmeg in a blender and blend on low speed about 5 seconds to mix thoroughly, then increase the speed to high and blend until the batter is light and foamy, about 30 seconds.
3. This is the first layer of custard for the quiche. Once you have assembled the first layer of the quiche, add the remaining custard ingredients to the blender and repeat the process to complete the quiche.
Assembly and Baking:
- Scatter 1/4 cup of cheese and 1/2 of either filling mixture evenly into baked quiche shell still on baking sheet.
- Blend the quiche batter again to aerate it, then pour in enough of the batter to cover the ingredients and fill the quiche shell approximately halfway.
- Top the custard with the remaining filling and another 1/4 cup of cheese.
- Blend the second half of the custard and fill the quiche shell all the way to the top, sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of cheese (if you don't have a very steady hand, you might spill some of the custard on the way to the oven; fill the shell most of the way, then pour the final amount of custard on top once the quiche is on the oven rack). You may have some custard left over.
- Bake for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, until the top of the quiche is browned and the custard is set when the pan is jiggled. Remove the quiche from the oven and let cool completely on a rack, then wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 day, or up to 3 days.
- Once the quiche is thoroughly chilled, using a sharp knife, cut away the excess crust from the top edge. Gently remove the outside ring, working it free in spots with a small knife if necessary. Return to the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- To serve, heat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with lightly oiled parchment paper. Using a long serrated knife, and supporting the sides of the crust with your opposite hand, carefully cut through the edge of the crust in a sawing motion. Switch to a long slicing knife and cut through the custard and bottom crust. Repeat, cutting the quiche into 8 to 10 pieces. Place the pieces on the baking sheet and reheat for 15 minutes or until hot throughout. To check, insert a metal skewer into the quiche for several seconds and then touch the skewer to your lip to test the temperature of the quiche.
The Top 5 Keys to Successfully Cooking a Quiche like Thomas Keller:
1 – FULLY incorporate the butter into the pastry dough, leaving no flecks of butter to be seen.
2 – Rest the dough twice, once overnight after first making it, and once after rolling it and lining the ring mold.. This will prevent the shell from shrinking when you bake it.
3 – Ensure a light unctuous texture by making the custard in a blender, and briefly aerate it before pouring each layer into the pastry shell.
4 – Use the best ingredients you can find for making this dish. As there are so few ingredients, the quality of each is really important. Farm fresh organic eggs, whole milk, heavy cream, and the best filling ingredients you can put your hands on will ensure a delicious result.
5 – Let the quiche rest in the fridge overnight before removing it from the ring mold, cutting a
nd reheating. The custard is so light and fragile, that trying to cut a slice when the quiche is at room temperature will end in disaster.
There you go….go forth and make QUICHE!