I can think of few things more classically French than a quiche. And Quiche Lorraine at that. You know, bacon, eggs, cream, all in a tender pastry shell.
In the 16th century, it was prepared in a brioche crust and known in German as a Kuchen, or cake. The Quiche Lorraine familiar to us is a relative youngster, dating to the 19th century. Cheese, usually Gruyère, was added when the dish immigrated to the U.S. in the 1950s.
Quiche, or Kuchen, originated in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France. The two territories had bounced back and forth between what eventually became France and Germany since the first half of the first century. They finally came to rest in France in 1945 at the end of World War II. It was in the beautiful city of Strasbourg, on my first trip to France, where I tasted Quiche Lorraine on French soil. I still think of that moment whenever I make one.
A Quiche Lorraine with the addition of onions becomes a Quiche Alsacienne, and in honor of both Bastille Day and the initial moments of what grew into a life-long love affair with a country, that’s what I decided to make.
FIRST, MAKE THE PASTRY
But first, a note about tart pans. I’m fond of those made of tinned steel with a removable base.
Once lifted out, breaking the side crust while serving ceases to be an issue. I have many of them in several shapes and sizes, and they’re among the true workhorses of my kitchen. They are inexpensive and easy to find. I recommend them highly.
Read all about pie and tart pastry here. That post, for Perfect Flaky Pastry, is one of the most oft-viewed on the site. It’s one of those methods that is simply fail-safe.
After the disk (the recipe makes two, so don’t forget to freeze the other) has rested in the refrigerator, remove it, and unwrap it.
As you roll the dough, slide it around from now and then to be sure it isn’t sticking.
The diameter of the pastry should exceed that of your tart pan by about an inch and a half. Use a paring knife to trim it into shape. Roll it back over the rolling pin, then drape it over your tart pan.
Carefully lift the edge with one hand, and ease it into the corner of the pan with the other. Gently press the sides of the pastry against those of the tart pan. Finally, if there is any dough which extends up beyond the edge of the pan, gently press it over the edge and run the rolling pin over the top to evenly cut it off. For some reason, I find this strangely yet enormously satisfying.
Set the tart pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Be sure to pick it up by the sides, NOT the bottom! While it is resting, begin preparing your other ingredients.
Makes a 10-inch round quiche, 6 or 8 servings
6 strips of very good thick-sliced bacon
1 onion, yellow or white
6 large eggs *
4 ounces cream
4 ounces Gruyère cheese (Jarlsberg or Fontina will do nicely, too), grated
1/2 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
* If you’re using a conventional pie plate rather than a thinner tart pan, you’ll need more eggs. The typical ratio for a quiche is 1 egg per person; however, for a deeper pie plate, add 2 more eggs and another two ounces of cream.
Preheat your oven to 375º degrees.
You know the trick of cooking bacon in the oven, right? Much less mess, much less shrinkage, the oven eventually does the clean-up. Well, if you think the aroma of bacon cooking is the ne plus ultra of cooking, just wait till you smell bacon and onions together.
Lay the strips of bacon on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
Cut off the stem end of the onion, then cut it in half from stem to root end. Leave the root end intact; it’s going to hold the onion together while you slice it. Peel each half.
Lay each half flat on your cutting board, and slice them into half-moons 1/4″ thick. Discard the root ends.
Toss the onions about on your board to separate them, then arrange them around the edges of the baking sheet containing the bacon. Sprinkle the onions with a bit of salt.
Set the baking sheet in the oven. Bake until bacon is crispy and onions have softened and begun to caramelize, about 35-40 minutes.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Use tongs to transfer the bacon strips to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. With the same tongs, toss the onions in the bacon grease and let them cool at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
Leave the oven set to 375º to bake the quiche.
Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator and set it on a clean baking sheet. Once filled, it’s going to be much easier to handle, and if it overflows a bit, the mess is contained.
Transfer the bacon to your cutting board, and chop it into 1/2″ pieces. Scatter them over the onions.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, salt, and some grinds of pepper.
When fully blended, pour them over the contents of the tart pan. Scatter the remaining cheese over the top.
Set the quiche in the oven. Bake it for 35-40 minutes, until it has puffed up, and the top and edges of the pastry are gently browned. If you are using a deeper pie plate, yours may need to bake for 10 minutes or so more.
Remove it from the oven and allow it to sit for 5 minutes to stop cooking.
Using hot pads or oven mitts, carefully lift the bottom up from underneath and set it on a flat surface. Cut the quiche into as many servings as you wish. Those not consumed right away can be wrapped individually to take to work for a heavenly lunch.
Serve with a green salad and perhaps a glass of crisp Alsatian Pinot Gris or Gewuztraminer.
Wherever you are, Santé to Bastille Day, and to the best of a warm July evening.