Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bacon Cheddar Quiche

Besides cocktails, another great thing about the weekend at our house is breakfast.  Marc and I are both everyday breakfast eaters, but of course through the week we try to stick with things like high fiber cereal and granola.  When Saturday morning rolls around, it's always good to indulge in some custardy french toast made from challah bread, some homemade buttermilk pancakes with Stonewall Kitchen's butter pecan syrup, or a bunch of eggs and cheese with a side of crispy hash browns.  This Saturday was an eggs and cheese day.  And because we had an open package of bacon in the fridge, there was no question that it would also have to be incorporated into whatever we made.

The weekend is also the only time I allow myself to indulge in coffee.  Why is coffee an indulgence, you might ask?  It's not the caffeine.  I actually drink decaf.  It's because in order to stand the taste of coffee, the only way I will drink it is if it's so loaded with cream and sugar that the coffee flavor is kind of an idea, hidden somewhere in the background.  When I'm the barista, coffee is about a thousand calorie affair, so, as my sister-in-law tells her children, it's definitely a "sometimes" food, not an "everyday" food.  So what could go better with a steaming hot mug full of vanilla caramel creamer, sugar and a splash of coffee than a beautiful slice of quiche?

Most quiches I've had use gruyere as the cheese, which I absolutely love.  But gruyere is expensive, and I don't typically keep it in the house.  I had cheddar and some green onions on hand, and since both go well with bacon, the answer seemed pretty obvious.  I kept the custard portion of the dish pretty standard.  I did make it very rich, using a full cup of heavy cream and another cup of skim milk, which is slightly fattier than 2 cups of half-and-half.  You could absolutely use the 2 cups of half-and-half, but I would not cut back on the fattiness of the dairy anymore than that or it might get watery and weepy.

Those who know me well might be shocked to learn that I actually used a pre-made refrigerated pie crust for this quiche.  This was partly because I don't really enjoy making pie crust from scratch, partly because I had a crust that had been hanging around for a while and needed to be used, and mostly because I wanted to be able to eat my breakfast before dinner time rolled around.  Often if you use a pre-made crust (and sometimes even when you make one from scratch) and bake it for a little bit first before the filling goes in, you might end up with cracks in the crust.  The best way I've found to deal with this is to brush a little bit of beaten egg on the cracks while the crust is still hot, and that should seal the cracks up pretty well.  You can even throw the crust back in the hot oven for a few minutes to really make sure that egg sets up before you add your pie filling.  If you don't take this easy step, your filling will run underneath the crust and your pie or quiche will stick to the pie pan and become a giant, ugly mess.  (No, I've never had this happen, why do you ask?)  You might have already noticed in the picture above a fault line in the side of my crust that was somewhat akin to the San Andreas.  Even that crack sealed up nicely with a few generous coats of egg.

I should warn you that this is not a good thing to make if you're hungry right now.  The crust needs to bake on its own for a little bit, and then the quiche bakes for nearly an hour, followed by an hour of cooling.  It is a great brunch dish, though, and if you're not starving, it's kind of nice for one to slowly sip and enjoy her calorie intensive coffee while it bakes, or, say, run to the farmer's market while it cools.

Bacon Cheddar Quiche

Please do not be tempted to skip the cooling part of this recipe or your eggs will run all over.  I was using a very deep pie dish.  If yours is a bit more shallow, you may have too much filling.  Remember, eggs tend to souffle, so don't overfill!  If you have a pie crust shield (see mine in the photo above) this is a great place to use it.  Bake the crust for the first 20 to 25 minutes without the shield on, then add the shield after you put the quiche filling in the crust.  I think it really helps keep the crust from getting too dark, since it's in the oven for such a long time when all is said and done.  My husband claims this would be even better with some mushrooms as well, but because of my aforementioned hatred of them, I'll let you figure that out on your own.

pie dough for a single crust pie, pre-made or make your own

2 green onions, chopped
4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
5 eggs
1 cup heavy cream + 1 cup skim milk, or 2 cups half-and-half
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Fit the pie dough into a pie plate and finish the edges as you like.  Place 2 layers of heavy duty foil in the pie plate and fill with pie weights or a bunch of pennies.  This will keep the empty pie crust from slumping into the pie plate as it bakes.  Bake the pie crust for about 20 to 25 minutes, until it's just slightly colored.  Remove the layers of foil and pie weights.

While the crust is baking, cook the bacon in a 10" skillet over medium-high heat.  Once the fat has begun to render and the bacon is beginning to crisp, pour off most of the fat, leaving a small amount in the pan.  Add the green onions and cook for several minutes until softened.  Add the garlic clove and cook until fragrant, about a minute.  Remove the bacon, onions and garlic from the heat and set aside.

Whisk the eggs, milk, cream, salt and pepper together in a 4 cup or larger liquid measuring cup.  Set aside until the crust is done baking.

Once the crust is done, sprinkle the bacon/onion/garlic mixture evenly across the bottom, then sprinkle the cheese over the bacon mixture in an even layer.  Give the egg mixture one more quick whisk and then slowly pour it into the crust. 

Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted about an inch from the edge of the crust comes out clean.  Let cool for at least one hour.  A sprinkling of fresh chives on each slice is pretty and tasty!

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