Ham, Leek and Gruyère Quiche
Quiche is one of the most versatile dishes you can make. It can be varied with the seasons; accommodate a wide range of cheeses, vegetables and meats; and be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Ham and Gruyère cheese are a classic French combination, and here they benefit from the subtle flavor and silky texture of sautéed leeks. To give this quiche a special flourish, buy an extra leek, preferably a small one. Thinly slice the white and pale green parts lengthwise, and sauté them in butter until wilted. Lay the long leek slices on top of the quiche before you sprinkle it with cheese and bake.
For the crust:
- 1 1/4 cups (6 1/2 oz./200 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 7 Tbs. (3 1/2 oz./105 g) very cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 5 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./80 ml) ice water, plus more if needed
For the filling:
- 1 small leek, white and pale green parts
- 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 thick slice Black Forest ham, about 6 oz. (185 g), diced
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) whole milk
- 1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) crème fraîche or sour cream
- Heaping 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) shredded Gruyère cheese
To make the crust, in the bowl of a food processor, stir together the flour and salt. Sprinkle the butter over the top and pulse for a few seconds, or just until the butter is slightly broken up into the flour but is still in visible pieces. Evenly sprinkle the water over the flour mixture, then process just until the mixture starts to come together. Transfer the dough into a large sealable plastic bag, and press into a flat disk. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes or up to 1 day, or freeze for up to 1 month.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into an 11-inch (28-cm) round about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Drape the dough over the rolling pin and ease it to a 9-inch (23-cm) tart pan with at least 1-inch (2.5-cm) sides and a removable bottom. Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan, then fold the edge over on itself and press together. Put the pan in the freezer and chill for about 15 minutes.
Position a rack in the middle of an oven and preheat to 400°F (200°C).
Prick the bottom of the pie shell with a fork, then line with aluminum foil. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the crust is set but not browned, about 12 minutes. Remove the foil and weights. Prick any bubbles with a fork. Continue to bake until the crust is firm and very lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack. Position the rack in the upper third of the oven and reduce the temperature to 375°F (190°C).
While the crust is baking, quarter the leek lengthwise and slice; you should have about 1 cup (4 oz./125 g). In a fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leek and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leek starts to brown and becomes tender, about 3 minutes. Toss the diced ham into the pan, stir to combine with the leek and remove from the heat.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, crème fraîche, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Scatter the ham and leeks evenly over the crust, pour in the egg mixture and sprinkle the cheese on top. Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the quiche is puffed and lightly golden and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. If you like, slide the quiche under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the top a bit more. Let the quiche stand on the wire rack for about 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes one 9-inch (23-cm) quiche.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Home Baked Comfort, by Kim Laidlaw (Weldon Owen, 2011)