I thought I knew how to make a good quiche, and had relegated it to the realms of the mundane. That was until I tried one here in an Alsace, the land where quiche was born. It is often eaten as an entrèe and is found in almost every boucherie and boulangerie in France.
|Market morning Chatenois|
She brought us the menu which offered only three or four choices and all but one of us chose the quiche. I could see her preparing our meals in the kitchen, and she pulled a large quiche from the fridge and reheated 3 portions in the oven. My mind immediately turned to dried out pastry and leathery eggs but, to my delight, the pastry was buttery and just crisp and the filling creamy, with a hint of nutmeg. Parfait! Alongside the quiche was a fresh, crunchy salad with a light, piquant dressing - a perfect start to our gastronomic adventures in Alsace.
I have since learnt that the pâte brisée (pastry) should be made with salted butter and the migaine (filling) should be made with crème fraiche, but without cheese. Crème fraiche is not used in Australia to the extent it is here in France, so you may need to seek it out in the supermarket or deli. Tradition calls for smoked pork shoulder, but more recently lardons (cubes) of good smoked bacon are used. Controversial I know, but don’t add milk, cheese or salt to the mix as essentially this is a baked custard that should only be just set when removed from the oven. You can add some vegetables such as spinach, onion or peas, however I prefer mine straight to enjoy the delicate balance of flavours.
Pâte brisée (Shortcrust pastry)
100g salted butter
pinch of salt
Make the shortcrust pastry by rubbing in the butter to the flour and salt till it resembles a breadcrumb texture. Once this is achieved, add a few tablespoons of cold water until a smooth pastry is formed. Knead lightly and roll out on a floured surface to fill a 28cm tart tin or pie dish. Chill the lined baking tin for 30 minutes, to reduce shrinkage of the pastry when cooked.
200g of good quality thick smoked bacon, cut into cubes or lardons
70ml of crème fraiche
4 large eggs
pinch of nutmeg, ground
pinch of pepper, ground
Lightly cook the bacon lardons without adding extra fat. Cook until lightly browned then drain on kitchen towel to soak up the fat, then set aside.
In another bowl, beat the eggs and crème fraiche lightly until just mixed and add in the pepper and nutmeg.
Take the chilled tart tin from the fridge and spread the bacon lardons across the base and gently pour the egg mixture in.
Cook in a pre-heated oven at 210C for about 20-25 minutes or until the quiche is lightly browned and the pastry is just crispy. The quiche should still be a little wobbly in the centre.
Serve with a crispy salad with a piquant vinaigrette.