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Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine
The northeastern French province of Lorraine gave us this traditional savory tart of eggs, bacon and cheese that seemed to be on every weekend brunch table and ladies' luncheon menu by the mid-1960s. The classic filling ingredients are included here. Some versions add chopped onion or leek that has been sautéed in butter, a nod to the cooking traditions of neighboring Alsace.

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into
     small cubes
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. ice water

For the filling:

  • 6 lean bacon slices
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

Directions:

To make the pastry, in a bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the butter and, using a pastry blender or your fingertips, work the ingredients together quickly until crumbly and the mixture resembles oatmeal. Then, while quickly stirring and tossing with a fork, add the ice water a little at a time just until the dough begins to hold together. Gather into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 425ºF.

On a lightly floured work surface, using your hands, flatten the ball of dough into a disk. Dust it with flour and roll out into an 11-inch round. Fit carefully into a 9 or 10-inch tart pan, or a 9-inch glass pie dish. If using a tart pan, trim the dough even with the pan rim. If using a pie dish, trim the dough to allow a 1-inch overhang, then fold under the overhang and flute the edges. Prick the dough in several places with fork tines and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Partially bake the pastry shell until it just begins to color, 10 to 12 minutes. If the pastry puffs up during baking, prick again with a fork to release the steam. Remove from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 375ºF.

To make the filling, in a fry pan over medium-high heat, fry the bacon until crisp and golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. When cool enough to handle, crumble into small bits. Scatter the crumbled bacon over the bottom of the pastry shell.

In a bowl, combine the cream, milk, eggs and melted butter. Using a whisk or fork, beat until well blended. Stir in the cheese and season with salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Pour into the prepared pastry shell and sprinkle the top lightly with nutmeg.

Bake until the custard is set and the tip of a knife inserted into the center of the custard comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for several minutes before serving.
Serves 6 to 8.
Adapted from Celebrating the Pleasures of Cooking, by Chuck Williams (Time-Life Books, 1997).