Retro Favorites #2 ~ Quiche “Lorraine”

“Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche” said Bruce Feirstein in 1982. Too late, I had already been making and eating quiche for some time by then.

Quiche, that creamy egg pie with the distinctly French sounding name, gained popularity in the U.S. around the 70’s and 80’s. Originally coming from the Lorraine region, quiche has its roots firmly planted in French cuisine. Actually, I read that Lorraine was once a possession of Germany so the origin of quiche may have its roots in the German word “kuchen.

Quiche “Lorraine” is my Retro Favorite #2 because I fondly remember watching reruns of “The French Chef” on PBS WGBH out of Boston and since Quiche Lorraine is one of Julia Child’s signature dishes I’m pretty sure that’s where I first learned to make it.

According to Julia, the original quiche Lorraine only contained eggs, cream, seasoning and bacon (usually lardons or the French poitrine fumé – not the heavily smoked and salted American bacon) …and no cheese at all! 

Still, the recipe I’m posting here is my version of Quiche “Lorraine” as it evolved over several years of my cooking career.  I have chosen to make this quiche with bacon, Gruyere, and onion, so I guess my recipe is really an illegitimate grandchild of a true quiche Lorraine, and therefore I have called it “Lorraine” (imagine the air quotes) so you know it’s not a literal interpretation.

When choosing bacon I prefer the uncured kind and thick cut if you can find it (it will have a more meaty, less salty/smoky flavor).  I love Gruyere cheese but any good Swiss will work — or combine 2/3 cup mild Cheddar or Monterey Jack and 1/3 cup Parmesan. You can also choose to use shallots or scallions in place of the onion. And you can certainly make this using a store bought pie crust or your own favorite crust recipe.

When I think of quiche it reminds me of the brief time I worked at SUNY Brockport in 1981. Just after we closed Lista’s Restaurant my Dad started his second career working for the college dining services where he oversaw the Gallery restaurant and eventually the catering department. One summer, when I was between jobs, Dad landed me a prep-cook job at Brockway dining hall. As a young non-union worker I wasn’t looked upon with much favor by the other cooks so I pretty much stayed in a corner and did my work. After a few weeks my supervisor decided I would be better off cooking in the Rathskeller (the bar on campus) where I made a variety of pub foods including, believe it or not, three types of quiche! I always thought quiche was strange company for the usual fare of pizza, burgers, wings, potato skins and mozzarella sticks. Still it was at that bar in the basement of the college union where I practiced and perfected making quiche.

Dan’s Quiche “Lorraine”

Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
Serves: 4-6

1 1/4 cups All Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Butter (1 stick) – cut into ½” dice and chilled
1/4 cup Ice Water (as needed)
8 oz. Bacon (preferably uncured) — cut into 1/2″ pieces
1/2 cup Onion — diced
3 Eggs
1 1/4 cup Half & Half
Salt & Black Pepper to taste
Pinch of Ground Nutmeg (optional)
4 oz. Gruyere Cheese — shredded (about 1 cup)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Make the crust: Whisk flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the chilled butter pieces and work it into the flour until it’s well-distributed (some larger pieces will still be visible). Tossing flour/butter mix with a fork (or your fingers), drizzle in the ice water until the dough starts to come together. Squeeze the dough in your hand — if it holds together easily without crumbling it’s ready (if it is still dry or pieces break off easily add a bit more water until it’s totally cohesive).
3. Gather the dough into a ball and gently pat/shape into a rough disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling.

3. Roll out pastry to fit a 9″ pie plate and flute edges. Prick the bottom and sides several times with a fork. Place a sheet of foil over pastry and weigh it down with dried beans or pie weights making sure the whole bottom is covered. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully lift the foil and beans out of the crust. Discard beans. 
4. Make the filling: In a skillet or medium heat, cook the bacon pieces until they begin to crisp (about 10 minutes). Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Leave 1 TBSP bacon fat in skillet and saute onions until translucent and tender (about 5 minutes). Set aside.
5. In a mixing bowl whisk the eggs, half & half and seasonings until fully blended.
6. Evenly distribute cooked bacon over bottom of prepared crust; evenly distribute sauteed onions over bacon, and evenly distribute shredded cheese over onions.
7. Slowly pour egg mixture over the bacon/onion/cheese until it fills the crust completely but doesn’t overflow.
8. Bake quiche in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes until fully set (knife inserted near center comes out clean) and nicely browned on top. Allow to rest 10 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.

There you have it, Dan’s Quiche “Lorraine.” This always goes well served with a nice green salad as a light meal or is a great addition to a brunch menu. With a little extra work you can press the crust into mini muffin tins and make a great appetizer for a party. I hope you give it a try and as always I would love to hear your comments.

Until next time remember, “The Sauce Makes the Difference!”

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