The King's Quiche

The folks at Cook's Illustrated have done it again.  Their recipe for Deep-Dish Quiche Lorraine is marvelous. The only problem is that you'll have to cancel all your plans for one whole day to make it.  Seriously.  The crust alone takes 4 hours to make if you follow their instructions to the letter.

The only reason I had time to follow this recipe is that my youngest son was sick and we were home the whole day.

If you have a life, I recommend buying a deep-dish pre-made pie crust and 'blind-baking' it according to the package directions.  (That means that you bake the crust alone, usually covered in foil and filled with pie weights.) Then, make the custard according to the instructions below (skip to step 7.)  It's the custard that makes this quiche great.  But, you must bake it in a deep dish, or else it will be dry.

I'm including the pastry recipe below, for you over-achiever types.  Or just in case you want to impress someone.  It really is a very good savory pie crust and not hard to make.  The other thought I have is that you could make the pie crust one day, and bake the custard the next.

You'll find that you have extra custard. I poured the extra into small ramekins and baked them for 30 minutes.  They make a good after-school snack.

Also, this recipe is easily made vegetarian by substituting mushrooms for the bacon.

Deep-Dish Quiche Lorraine
Serves 8
From Cooks Illustrated, July 2010

Pastry Dough
1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen 10 minutes
3 tablespoons sour cream
1/4 cup ice water
1  large egg white, lightly beaten

Custard Filling
8 ounces bacon , preferably thick-cut, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
2 medium onions , chopped fine (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups whole milk
8 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
6 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)

1. FOR THE DOUGH: Process flour and salt together in food processor until combined, about 3 seconds. Add butter and pulse until butter is size of large peas, about ten 1-second pulses.

2. Mix sour cream and ¼ cup ice water in small bowl until combined. Add half sour cream mixture to flour mixture; pulse for three 1-second pulses. Repeat with remaining sour cream mixture. Pinch dough with fingers; if dough is floury, dry, and does not hold together, add 1 to 2 tablespoons ice water and process until dough forms large clumps and no dry flour remains, three to five 1-second pulses.

3. Turn dough out onto work surface and flatten into 6-inch disk; cover disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm but not hard, 1 to 2 hours, before rolling. (Dough can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)

4. Line your extra-deep (at least 2") pie dish with a circle of parchment paper.  Spray sides of the dish lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

5. Roll out disk of dough on generously floured work surface to 15-inch circle (about ¼ inch thick). Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into cake pan. Working around circumference, ease dough into pan by gently lifting edge of dough with 1 hand while pressing into pan bottom with other. Trim any dough that extends more than 1 inch over edge of pan. Refrigerate dough-lined pan until firm, about 30 minutes, and then freeze for 20 minutes.

6. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line dough with parchment or foil and fill completely with pie weights or dried beans, gently pressing weights into corners of shell. Bake on rimmed baking sheet until exposed edges of dough are beginning to brown but bottom is still light in color, 30 to 40 minutes. Carefully remove parchment and pie weights. (Now, the original recipe calls for a second baking of the crust for 20 minutes to brown the bottom, but I would skip that as it makes the crust too crisp).  Remove shell from oven and brush interior with egg white. Set aside while preparing filling. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

7. FOR THE CUSTARD: Cook bacon in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate and discard all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat from skillet. Return to medium heat, add onions, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Set onions aside to cool slightly.

8. Place cornstarch in large bowl; add 3 tablespoons milk and whisk to dissolve cornstarch. Whisk in remaining milk, eggs, yolk, cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne until mixture is smooth.

9. Scatter onions, bacon, and Gruyère evenly over crust. Gently pour custard mixture over filling. Using fork, push filling ingredients down into custard and drag gently through custard to dislodge air bubbles. Gently tap pan on countertop to dislodge any remaining air bubbles.

10. Bake at 350 until top of quiche is lightly browned, toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, and center registers 170 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Transfer to wire rack and let stand until cool to touch, about 2 hours.

11. When ready to serve, use sharp paring knife to remove any crust that extends beyond edge of pan. Lift foil overhang from sides of pan and remove quiche from pan; gently slide thin-bladed spatula between quiche and foil to loosen, then slide quiche onto serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve.