Lorraine—The Mother Quiche for Real Men

August 27, 2009

Pesto is the quiche of the ’80s.
~Nora Ephron

I have no clue how this marvelous egg and cheese open faced custard pie which was such in the vogue in the 60’s fell so precipitously out of favor—even becoming homophobically contemptible—in just a matter of a couple of decades. It is much too savory to be ill treated.

Although widely considered a classic French dish, quiche actually originated in the German medieval kingdom of Lothringen which the French later occupied and named Lorraine, as in Alsace-Lorraine. (For more on this intriguing region, see Onion Tart (Tarte aux Oignons) 06.02.09.)

The word “quiche” originally derived from the German “Kuchen,” meaning cake. The German dialect spoken in the region altered “Kuchen” to “küche,” not to be confused with cooch, cooche, coochee or coochie. Over time, further linguisitic changes unrounded the ü and shifted the “ch” to “sh,” resulting in “kische,” which in standard French became spelled and pronounced “quiche.”

Authentic Quiche Lorraine is supposed to be cheeseless, but I cannot resist the temptation.


Savory pie dough (pâte brisée*)

2 T shallots, minced
2 T butter
8 strips bacon cut into 1/4″ lardons

1 1/2 C heavy whipping cream
3-4 farm fresh large eggs, room temperature
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Nutmeg, grated

Optional: 1/4 C Gruyère or Compté, grated
1/4 C Emmental, grated

Preheat oven to 350 F

Prepare pâte brisée dough and after it has chilled, roll out to about 1/8″ thick. Place a 9″ pie or quiche dish on a baking sheet. Roll the pastry up on your rolling pin and then unroll and lay it into the dish. There should be plenty of dough overhanging the edges. Reserve a small piece of dough to fill any cracks that might open in the dough as it bakes.

Line the dough with parchment paper and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. Place in oven to bake. After 30 minutes, remove the weights and parchment. Gently patch any cracks that may have formed with the reserved dough, and continue baking until the bottom of the crust is golden and cooked, about 15 more minutes. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.

Increase the oven temperaturee to 375 F

In a heavy medium skillet, sauté shallots over medium heat in butter until soft and translucent. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.

Sauté the bacon lardons over medium heat until crisp. Drain well on paper towels and combine with the shallots.

Combine and vigorously whisk together eggs, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper until frothy. Strew the shallots and bacon evenly over the bottom of the shell. If you opt for cheese, sprinkle over the shallots and bacon, reserving 1-2 tablespoons. Pour the custard to within 1/4″ of the rim of the dish and top evenly with the reserved cheese.

Bake until puffy and brown, about 30-35 minutes.

Allow the quiche to cool to room temperature before serving.

*Pâte Brisée

1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
6 T unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 T lard or shortening
1/4 teaspoon salt

3 T ice water

Place all the ingredients except the water, in a large bowl. Add the water mash and work with your hands and fingers so that is assembled into a solid, smooth ball. If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

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