Hardware stores used to be the epicenter for all cultural and social activity in our small South Texas community. Brides registered for wedding gifts, ranchers searched for nails to repair fences, pet owners upgraded their leashes, homeowners bought toilet parts, and the kids pressed their noses against chilled displays of fine chocolates. We were too modern to call them general stores, but they had everything you could ever want, and should ever need.
When quiche became the subject matter of pop songs about poodles, bumper stickers and stand-up comedy in the 1980’s, learning to make it became vital. I’m not sure who picked up the slim edition of Quiches and Pies by Irena Chalmers, and I am not sure which hardware store it came from, but Quiches and Pies became my first cookbook that I read cover to cover. The recipes were simple, detailed, and vaguely European (what, no grocery store products? From scratch? Wha?) At the ranch, I became the Queen of Quiche. I made scores of them.
Now that we have our own chicken yard, and Kiko is curing his own bacon, I thought I would revisit this recipe, so I pulled out my old copy of Quiches and Pies. I have had the privilege of attending a few panel discussions of Irena Chalmers at IACP conventions, and seeing this stained, well used book makes me chuckle.
Writing is like beaming transmissions into outer space, or inserting a small scroll into a bottle. You never know who is going to read it, or how your information will weave itself into the daily life, or career of another. Thank you Ms. Chalmers. The book was small, but the recipes were gobbled up, and memorized by a 12 year old. And, they are the foundation of my mental recipe rolodex. I hope someday my blog posts will be part of a future food writers experience.Print
A favorite recipe for Quiche Lorraine, inspired by Irena Chalmers
1 prepared pie crust, 9″ (23cm)
8oz pork belly or bacon (250gr)
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 cup grated cheese, preferably Swiss, or gruyere
4 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream (240ml)
1 cup milk (240ml)
2 tbsp. melted butter, bacon fat or a combination of both (28gr)
1 tbsp. all purpose flour (8gr)
Pinch nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat your oven to 375 °F/190°C. Place the pie crust in a 9″ (23cm) pie plate, cover with foil, and fill with pie weights, or uncooked dried beans.* Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven, allow to cool slightly, and then lift out the foil filled with uncooked beans. Allow the beans to cool completely before returning them to their bag for later use.
While your crust is baking, in a large skillet, heat the pork belly or bacon until a small amount of fat renders. Add the onion, and saute until the bacon and onions are well caramelized, about 8 minutes.
Add the cooked bacon, onions and cheese to the prepared pie crust. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the cream, milk, butter, flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper. When it is well mixed, pour into the pie crust over the bacon and cheese. Cover the outer crust with a protective collar made from aluminum foil.
Place the quiche in the oven, and bake for 50 minutes, until the center is solid
I happened to have a store bought pie crust, and used that. They are not terrible. If it seems too small for your pie plate, simply extend it a bit by rolling it with a rolling pin.
*Pre-baking a pie crust with weights is called blind baking. Not many people have pie weights in their kitchen, but dried, uncooked beans work just as well, and can be returned to their bag once they are cooled, for cooking and consuming later. Please do not use cooked beans for this step. (seriously!) You can skip blind baking if you like, but the trade-off is that your crust will be a bit soggy.
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