Back in the eighties the phrase of derision was “Real men don’t eat quiche”. To which we respond “no, we cook for everyone else!” Quiche is a cheese custard pie with bacon, what’s unmanly there? Regardless, once you learn to make quiche you will love how it fills the bill from a cold summer picnic, to a warm autumn dinner, to a pleasant spring brunch.
In the Lorraine region of France, they have been enjoying quiche for some 500 years. I suppose that gives them a right to be haughty about it, quiche only became known to the outside world mid-20th century. Their kerfuffle is about cheese. It’s always the cheese with the French, but we digress.
“The King can wait; the quiche can’t” − Lorraine proverb
The high and mighty chefs or Paris added cheese to what was previously eggs cream and bacon in a pastry shell. The people of Lorraine no doubt scorched them in effigy, including the mighty Escoffier, who added Gruyere to his dish in 1903, creating the quiche as we know it today. One of our idols, the inestimable Julia Childs weighed in on the side of no cheese. We still love her, but must respectfully disagree.
Basics of Making Quiche
We all agree that this is a savory custard pie. And it has bacon, we’ll come back to that as we always do. The custard portion, cream and eggs will suspend the cheese and meat in a nice delicate texture that makes quiche so enjoyable. Seasoning is also wide open in the savory spectrum. Our preference is using liquid flavors that will permeate the custard batter very well.
In addition to meat and cheese, you can add most any vegetable. Back in high school mom’s quiche with smoked salmon and asparagus was really tasty for us, my buddy who had never had quiche was a little slower to embrace it, but he did. If you include hard veggies, onion is our favorite, you need to have a cooking or blanching step to at least soften them up. Otherwise, they will tear up the pie when you cut it.
Also See: Our Favorite Frittatas
When it comes to cheese, I suppose we have to give the French their due, after all where else can you stumble upon a night time open-air pop-up cheese market?
Quiche favors a bold cheese. Gruyere, a cheese style borrowed from the Swiss, and that Escoffier used, is familiar in topping French onion soup and considered one of the great baking cheeses of the world. But those scrappy rascals in the UK village of Cheddar…you can see where this is going. For accessibility, flavor, color, and even cost, a sharp cheddar is our go to cheese for quiche, in this case we also added some jack cheese.
You can use literally any cheese though. We’ve tried cream cheese whisked in along with a portion of hard parmesan or such. The hard cheeses don’t get a great “melt” so use them more as flavoring component than a structural ingredient. The world is our fromagerie, so you can have a lot of fun choosing the cheese to meet you liking.
Meats for Making Quiche
Like cheese, you can use any meat. Since it is minced and distributed throughout, cured meats with their intense flavors tend to fit in better. Keep in mind, meat is one component, and of lesser volume, along with other flavorful items. That is why bacon is so popular, along with ham and such.
The other key is that the meat be fully cooked. The temperatures to set custard are high enough to cook meat, but frankly you don’t want the juices and fats to permeate your pie. Sausage, for example, usually has enough flavor to stand up in quiche and should be browned and drained before using.
Tips for Making the Best Quiche
This recipe is for two 9-inch pies and it will scale well to higher volumes. You can buy a pie crust if that is more comfortable for you, it makes for an easy fast prep stage. For this volume of crust, we didn’t feel like breaking out the food processor, although you may certainly do that if you prefer and are familiar with that process. Instead, we used the classic pastry cutter to blend the flour and shortening.
Roll the crust out as normal. In the pan, we like to build the edge up high enough to be safe. The contents will expand, and we can say from experience, custard leaking onto the bottom of a hot oven is not a pleasant smell. Obviously, the other side of this is don’t fill them too high, allow ¼ – ½ inch at the top from fluid to edge tips.
We did buy our cheese grated. Some folks don’t care for the very light cellulose dusting used to keep the cheese from sticking together. That being said, I often toss my home shredded cheese with a slight amount of flour or cornstarch to minimize any clumping. There is little to no affect on flavor or texture when cooked.
We also happened to have bacon bits already cooked in our fridge…what can we say, we like bacon. If you don’t have some, mince the bacon, cook it nearly all the way, drain it and cook the onions with it until they are soft. Put it all on a paper towel to cool before adding to the quiche. Because ours were cold, we added them to our cooked onions to cool them down before using.
Dijon mustard is a common ingredient in quiche. We prefer lower vinegar mustards, and used a deli brown style for this recipe. Mustards also run an amazing gamut of choices, so you can customize this part. As usual we used a Mexican style hot sauce, again, as opposed to a more vinegary Louisiana style.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup shortening
- ¾ cups milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups bacon bits
- 1 medium onion
- 5 cups shredded cheese
- 4 cups cream
- 8 eggs
- 1 Tablespoon brown mustard
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce
- Dice onions and add to skillet, cook to clear
- Remove from heat and add bacon bits, set aside
- Put flour, salt and shortening in a bowl
- Cut them together until the shortening is flour coated pea sized lumps
- Add milk, mix until a dough then put on a well-floured counter
- Roll dough out to cover 3 inches wider than your pan
- Gently drape the dough evenly placed in the pan
- Roll dough up to form edges then press into fluted shape
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Add 1 cup cheese to each pie shell
- Add the bacon and onion mix in an even layer
- Top evenly with remaining cheese
- In a bowl add eggs, mustard and hot sauce
- Add cream, whisk until blended
- Gently pour the batter into the pies
- Bake pies about 90 minutes, until an inserted knife comes out clean
- Let set for 15 minutes, serve and enjoy