A quiche is a savory pie with a custard-based filling. Lorraine is a region in north-east France that has mixed German-French history and is called Lothringen in German. The word “quiche” comes from German “Küchen” (pie). According to wikipedia there are three types of quiche: Lorraine: with bacon (lardons) only, Vosgienne: with bacon and cheese, and Alsacienne: with bacon, onions and cheese. There is even a “Syndicat National de Défense et de Promotion de l’Authentique Quiche Lorraine” (National Society for the Protection and Promotion of the Authentic Quiche Lorraine) that says that an authentic Quiche Lorraine may only contain shortcrust pastry, egg, bacon, crême fraîche, pepper and nutmeg.
In practice, if you see a Quiche Lorraine it will always have bacon and may have cheese and/or onions as well. Thomas Keller’s “insanely delicious” Quiche Lorraine that I read about on REMCooks, is officially a Quiche Alsacienne. Richard calls it decadent, a lot of work, and incredibly good. I decided to give it a try, cutting some corners to make this a leisurely Sunday afternoon project and slightly less work. For the pastry I used the same approach as for the Pear Tart since that turned out so well. It was not as much work as I feared and the result was certainly decadent and delicious. Only the onion confit is more work (and takes more time) than any other quiche from scratch. The only thing I will change next time is to use a higher pie shape to get a higher custard-to-crust ratio. I may also try to do a quiche with crême fraîche rather than milk and heavy cream, to see whether the SNDPAQL has a point… Thanks to Richard McGary for the idea of making a quiche lorraine/alsacienne from scratch in the first place!
For the crust
250 grams pastry flour (all-purpose flour will also work, but pastry flour gives a crispier/flakier crust)
125 grams cold butter
1/2 tsp salt
2-4 Tbsp ice water
For the batter
250 ml (1 cup) milk
250 ml (1 cup) heavy cream
1 tsp salt
freshly ground white pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
For the filling
225 grams (.5 lb) smoked bacon, cut into lardons
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
freshly grated Comté cheese (substitue with Gruyere)
For the onion confit
2 onions, sliced lengthwise (about 2 cups)
50 grams (4 Tbsp) butter
4 Tbsp water
1 bouquet garni (bay leaf + parsley + thyme)
1/2 tsp salt
Add the onions, 1/2 tsp salt, and the bouquet garni. A bouquet garni is few sprigs of fresh thyme and parsley held together by a bay leaf. Since I only had dried bay leaves on hand, which can’t be bent without breaking them, I improvised a little and used two bay leaves with the parsley and thyme in between. The point of the bouquet garni is that you can easily take it all out at the end of the cooking, without having bits of thyme and parsley everywhere in the finished dish.
Cook the onion confit for two hours (!) over very low heat, stirring and checking every 20-30 minutes and adding a bit of water if needed. You don’t want the onions to caramelize, so the heat should really be very low and there should always be a bit of water left. (The presence of liquid water limits the temperature to 100C/212F, and caramelizing cannot happen at temperatures under 150C/300F. But as soon as the water is gone, such temperatures can be reached very quickly. So check periodically, a bit more often towards the end of the two hours.) The onions should become tender without falling apart.
I used a 27 cm (11″) pie shape, but next time I will use a smaller one (24 cm/9″ or even less) to make the quiche higher and thus get a higer ratio of custard to crust.
Line the pie shape with the pastry crust. Here I made the mistake to trim the edges right away. It is easier to trim the edges after baking the pie, because you want to fill it to the brim with the custard and then when you have to move the pie shape to put it into the oven, the batter will overflow unless you move it very slowly.
Let the unbaked pastry crust rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour. This helps to relax the gluten to prevent shrinking and make the crust more crispy and flaky. It’s even better to let it rest overnight like in TK’s recipe, but I didn’t have time for that and it still turned out well: crispy and flaky with just a tiny bit of shrinkage.
Line the crust with parchment paper and fill it with pie weights (ceramic balls like I used, or dried beans or even rice).
Bake for 35 minutes at 190C/375F.
Take the bacon out of the oven and lower the oven temperature to 160C/325F.
Bake at 160C/325F until the custard has set. Because I made a low quiche it was done in an hour, but if you fill it in two layers it may take 90 minutes or longer.
A full-bodied dry white wine from the region (i.e. Alsace) is a great match for a quiche alsacienne. A pinot gris matches the smokiness of the bacon best, but pinot blanc or riesling should also work. The vinaigrette may be difficult to pair though.