Are you hungry now? Baby Lady calls this dish “decadent” but she’s a woman. We all realize, “real men don’t eat quiche,” right? That’s because those “real men” have never eaten Thomas Keller’s Insanely Delicious Quiche Lorraine. If they had, they would have gone back for seconds! It’s so rich that thirds are completely out of the question. I could only eat the meal.
This is one of the best quiche loraine I have ever eaten (maybe I’m not a real man but you would have to ask Baby Lady that ) and it better have been because there is a whole lot of work that goes into this dish. It’s also very rich and filling. If you have the time, inclination and love quiche lorraine, then this dish is for you. It tastes as good as it looks and really is to die for. Given the amount of butter, cream and bacon in this dish, you may die after you eat it. It definitely is not on the American Heart Association’s list of heart healthy food but you gotta die from something, right? It might as well be as good as this. This recipe, however, is not for novices unless they are extraordinarily talented. For those of you with a little skill and some daring, you, too, can make this recipe. Just don’t plan on doing it all in one day! On a scale of 1 – 5 for level of difficulty, this one is a 5 and is up there with some of the recipes I learned and cooked from the Escoffier Cookbook (if you haven’t figured it out yet, this is going to be a really long post). It is incredibly good but I’m not certain I would make this again. I clearly will not make it again any time soon. It took one day to make the onion confit and pastry dough (the dough must rest overnight). It took another day to bake the pastry shell, let it cool, make the lardon and mix with the onion confit, make the batter, bake the quiche and chill it (it has to chill for a day). So, you won’t eat it until the third day. This means if you start on a Saturday, you can eat it Monday night! Holy, moly! But it sure is good.
I’m sure you are asking why in the world would I want to cook this dish? Don’t you have another, simpler quiche lorraine in your repertoire? I mean, it’s egg custard, right? Well, I do and it’s damn good but for my 58th birthday Baby Lady gave me 2 cookbooks, The French Laundry and Bouchon. These cookbooks have the recipes that Thomas Keller uses at his critically acclaimed restaurants, i.e. The French Laundry in Napa, California and Bouchon in the Venezia tower of The Venetian in Las Vegas. I have always wanted to eat at these restaurants but have never been to either of them because it is so ridiculously difficult to get a reservation. So these books are the closest I can get for the time being.
Because Baby Lady gave me these books, I obviously was obligated to read them and cook something from them. Consequently, one afternoon I immersed myself into Bouchon. Now a bouchon is a type of restaurant found in Lyon, France, that serves traditional Lyonnaise cuisine, such as sausages, duck pâté or roast pork. Compared to other forms of French cooking, such as nouvelle cuisine, Lyonnaise cuisine is quite rich and oriented around meat. It’s what most people think of when someone speaks of French food, i.e. boef bourguignonne, poularde a l’Estargon, escargot a la bourguignonne, quiche lorraine, etc. According to Thomas Keller this is his favorite type of food to eat. Bouchon details various of these classic dishes and their importance while pointing out critical kitchen technique that elevates normal, ordinary dishes to the realm of royal dining. It really is quite a read and once I began I understood this was no ordinary cookbook. It’s at times like these that I miss professional cooking but not enough to do it again. Like Under Pressure and The French Laundry, Bouchon is really geared toward experienced chefs and commercial kitchens. In fact, he explains how he does whatever he does at his restaurants. Essentially, it’s a continuing education course in the field of professional culinary arts. This makes it difficult for the home cook because of 1) the time involved; 2) the necessary kitchen tools; 3) the storage space; and 4) availability of product. Nonetheless, it is a wonderful learning vehicle and with a little advance planning and a sincere desire, nothing in Bouchon is beyond the scope of a good cook, professional or otherwise. So with both eyes wide open I took the plunge on one of his simpler dishes.
For the Pastry Shell
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 stick (8Tbsp) butter, unsalted, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
- 1/4 cup ice water
- Canola oil to oil the pan
For the Batter
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 6 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp white pepper, freshly ground
- 6 gratings fresh nutmeg
For the Filling
- 1 lb slab bacon cut into 3/8 inch lardons
- 2 cups onion confit
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
- 2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
- 1/2 cup Comte cheese (Gruyere is a suitable substitute)
Have I scared you off yet? Are you ready to work?
For the Pastry
Place 1 cup of flour and the salt in a heavy duty mixer with the paddle attachment.
Turn mixer on low and add butter 1 small handful at a time.
Once the butter is completely added, turn mixer to medium and mix until butter is completely mixed with the flour.
Now, reduce speed, add the remaining cup of flour to the bowl and mix to combine.
Next, add the water, and mix to completely incorporate. The dough should come around the paddle and feel smooth to the touch, not sticky.
Remove the dough from the bowl and mold into 6 inch round. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 day.
The purpose for such a long refrigeration time is to allow the dough to rest. The longer the dough rests, the less shrinkage there will be when you bake the shell.
After allowing the dough to rest, lightly flour a surface.
Roll out the dough until it is roughly 3/16 inch thick.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled 9 inch spring form pan and mold dough to fit pan pressing gently around the sides and the edges of the pan leaving the excess to drape over the top to help prevent shrinkage when baking.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut a 14 inch parchment round and line pastry shell with parchment round. Fill pastry shell with beans.
Do you have any idea how many pounds of beans it takes to fill this spring form pan??? Obviously, I didn’t when I started this project because it took all of the beans I had in the pantry. Try 5 pounds of beans!!
Place the pastry shell in the oven and bake for 35 – 45 minutes until the sides are brown but the bottom is still light in color.
Of course, you won’t know the color of the bottom unless you remove the parchment paper and beans. So, remove from oven, carefully remove the parchment and beans.
Return to oven for another 15 – 20 minutes or until the bottom is a rich, golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
For the Filling
While the pastry shell is cooling, bake the lardons in a 375 F oven.
You want to bake the lardons long enough to render the fat, not until it is crispy. When done, remove the lardons to a paper towel to drain.
Next, add the lardons, thyme, onion confit, salt and pepper to a large skillet and cook until warmed throughout.
For the Batter
While the pastry shell is cooling and the lardons are cooking, make the batter. Combine the cream and milk in a sauce pot and scald over medium heat. Let cool for 15 minutes.
Add the eggs, cream mixture, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a blender.
If you don’t have a large blender, prepare the batter in 2 batches, one for the first layer and the second batch for the second layer of the quiche. Start blending at a low speed for 5 seconds and increase to high speed for 30 – 60 seconds. You want a very frothy, light batter.
Set aside until ready to use. If it sits for over 5 minutes, re-blend for a few seconds.
Take 1/2 of the filling and place in the bottom of the pastry shell, covering the shell evenly. Put 1/2 of the grated comte cheese on top.
Now, pour 1/2 of the batter over the filling.
Add the remaining filling.
Add most of the batter over the filling and top with the remaining cheese
Take quiche to the oven, place on a rack and pour the remaining batter into the center of the quiche to fill the shell to the top.
Bake at 325 F for 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 hours until the top is nicely browned and the custard is set when when the pan jiggled. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
When cooled, place quiche in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 days. Actually, there was no way I was going to wait for 3 days. 1 day was long enough.
After 1 day, trim crust away from pan. Insert a knife and slide around rim of pan to ensure the pastry shell does not stick.
Remove from spring form pan. Slice into 8 slices (Thomas Keller says 6 but that is a lot of quiche). Place slices on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake at 375 F for 15 minutes or until warmed through. To check, insert a skewer in the middle of one side and slide it to the back. Rub the skewer on the skin immediately underneath your lower lip.
Serve with a light salad or sliced tomatoes and enjoy.
NOTE: This was an unbelievably long post and I’m exhausted writing it. I hope I didn’t put you to sleep trying to read it.