This is one of those dishes with an interesting history in its development and people’s attitude toward it. I had assumed that the origin was purely French, but it turns out it’s not that simple.
Quiche actually has its origins in the medieval kingdom of Lothringen, under German rule. This area was later renamed Lorraine by the French. The word ‘quiche’ comes from the German ‘Kuchen’, meaning cake.
The first quiche Lorraine was an open pie with a bottom crust of bread dough, and a filling of an egg and cream custard with smoked bacon. Cheese was added later, along with the crust changing to either pie dough or puff pastry. Then at some point, onion was added, which turns out is actually more traditional than the leeks that I and some others use.
Quiche became popular in England sometime after the Second World War, and in the U.S. during the 1950s. However, in the 1980s, that era of Trivial Pursuit and wine coolers, it became considered kind of a “chick thing”, not to be eaten by real men, as the saying went. It was definitely a dish associated with yuppies (I should know, I was one back then), and not everybody understood it. (Legend has it that my father in law once saw it on a menu and asked the waitress what the “quickie” was. This was before I joined the family, but this is the story my husband claims his sister told him. I’ll have to ask my sister in law to verify that.)
Now, however, the cliche surrounding quiche seems to have faded, and just about anybody will eat it, given that it’s a dish you can put just about anything in. For me, the Lorraine will always be number one, because, well, it has bacon. (Need I say more?) There are many versions out there, mostly varying in the ratios of eggs vs milk/cream, and whether onions or leeks are used.
This is the version I’ve come up with. You’ll notice that I specify a prebaked pie shell, in order to keep this recipe more straightforward. At some point, I may get into a pastry post, but in the meantime, there are plenty of good pie pastry recipes out there in the blogosphere. And there’s not a thing wrong with using a good quality frozen or refrigerated pie shell, either, if you’re short on time and/or patience. Heck, quiche is actually perfectly acceptable without a crust, if you have carb or gluten issues. Just grease up your baking dish so it won’t stick, and watch the time – it may bake quicker.
So here it is, in all its rich glory. This makes a lovely brunch dish when served with fresh fruit, or even a light dinner along with a green salad.
- 1 prebaked pie crust, 9" deep dish
- 6 to 8 oz bacon, diced
- 1 large or 2 small leeks, diced, white and light green parts
- 1 small bunch fresh thyme, about 5 or 6 stems, leaves stripped from stems
- salt, to taste
- white pepper, to taste
- 2 oz gruyere cheese, shredded
- 2 oz swiss cheese, shredded
- 2 whole eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- Prebake pie shell according to instructions
- Preheat oven to 375°
- Dice bacon and saute on medium high heat until just short of crisp. Remove from pan to drain and cool, reserving about 2 tablespoons of bacon grease in pan.
- Split and wash leeks to remove grit. Dice white and green parts and add to pan in which you have reserved a couple tablespoons of the bacon grease. Add thyme leaves and salt and white pepper to taste. Saute over medium heat until leeks are just starting to become translucent. Remove leek mixture from pan and cool.
- Shred gruyere and swiss cheeses in food processor or box grater
- Whisk eggs and egg yolk in bowl, add heavy cream and milk, along with cheeses, cooled leek mixture and cooled bacon, mix thoroughly. Pour into prebaked pie shell. Place on cookie sheet in center of oven.
- Bake at 375° for about 30 to 40 minutes until center is set and top is golden brown.
- Let cool and serve at room temperature.