Quiche is one of those dishes that has you covered any time…it goes from breakfast to brunch, to lunch and even to dinner with ease. There’s nothing like it when you’re snowed in and want a casual meal in front of the fire, but it’s just as good on a balmy afternoon on the deck.
Quiche is simple, but when I was a young mom in the 80′s it became incredibly popular (“Real men don’t eat Quiche…”) I made a lot of bad ones before coming across a Cook’s Illustrated “formula” that I’ve adapted and used ever since. (Worth noting here, this is not Cook’s Illustrated “Deep Dish” Quiche.) A few little tricks and my Quiches turn out beautifully fluffy and gorgeous. See the variations, below, for other quiches.
I like to serve Quiche with a fresh salad, a nice counterpoint to all the richness, when I serve Quiche for dinner; for breakfast or brunch, a simple fruit salad is wonderful. Serve Quiche warm or room temperature depending on the season.
Using sales priced ingredients, Quiche can be a very cost-effective meal – this one is priced out at about $3.45 using sales priced ingredients and my strategies, below. A careful reader will probably note that my actual cost was $1.45. At any rate, with either pricing, there is enough left over in the budget for a lovely salad – a bit of Spinach or Romaine, a few tomatoes, mushrooms and red onions (if bought on sale) will cost very little. I let the sales prices during the week guide me on what produce to buy.
Quiche Lorraine and Variations, serves 6
- 1 pie crust; partially baked, still warm
- 4 ounces bacon; 1/2″ pieces, cooked, 1/4 package
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolk
- 1 cup milk (Cook’s Illustrated says to use whole, but I always use 1 percent.) (see note)
- 1 cup heavy cream (see note)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- pinch nutmeg or a few swipes from a microplane
- 4 ounces Gruyère cheese; grated, or substitute Swiss
Prepare your pie crust and place in pie plate, then freeze for 20 minutes. This will set your crust so it be flakier and have less shrinkage. Skipping this step also might mean the crust could crack, and both cracking and shrinking affect the amount of filling that the crust will hold.
This amount of filling is meant for a regular pie plate, not necessarily a deep dish. If making in the regular size, make the crust edge high. If making in a deep dish, it won’t quite fill it up.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and adjust oven rack to the center position. Gently press a square of aluminum foil into the pie shell; evenly distribute 1 cup or 12 ounces of ceramic pie weights over foil (you can also use dried beans). Bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights by gathering sides of foil and pulling up and out. Be careful – it helps to have a large bowl ready to deposit the foil into.
Have the filling ready when the crust comes out of the oven – you will want to put the ingredients into the WARM pie shell. (If you have a cold shell, put it in the oven for a few minutes to heat.) While the crust is baking, cook bacon as desired: pan, oven or microwave. I preslice it cold, cook, then drain.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, yolks, cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Distribute cheese and bacon evenly over the bottom of the warm pie crust. Pour in egg mixture to about 1/2 inch below top of crust (you may not use every bit of it – you can place any extra in a small custard cup in a larger container of hot water and bake for about 15 -20 minutes along the Quiche – the timing depends on the amount and the size of the container.)
Bake until lightly golden brown and a knife blade inserted about one inch from the edge comes out clean, and center feels set but is still soft like jello, 32 to 35 minutes. A protector for the crust may be necessary if the crimped edge browns too much. This can be strips of foil placed over the edge or a gadget called a pie shield. If using foil, the same foil used for the pie shell can be used.
This Quiche will be surprisingly soft when first removed from the oven, but will continue to cook and set as it rests. Transfer Quiche to rack to cool, at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- If using other fillings that are bulkier, decrease milk and cream to 3/4 cup.
- Because 1/2 and 1/2 is half milk and half cream, 2 cups may be substituted.
- For Variations, see “Put Your own Spin on It,” below.
Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:
- Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
- Follow my Strategies – You’ll see them all explained on the upper left tab of every page and how I apply them, below.
- Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
- Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.
I often double the filling for the Quiche and freeze half – although it is mixed together rather than layered as in a traditional Quiche, it is nice to have the a second one ready to go in the freezer and save myself from having to buy cream or half and half, grate cheese etc. When I decide to make it, I just take it out the day before and place in a container in the fridge to thaw.
- You can freeze a whole Quiche: To freeze, cook as directed, cool, cover with two layers of foil, and freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator, then heat to serve. You can freeze any leftovers for breakfast or lunch down the road in the same manner.
- Since many of the variations call for 3/4 cup of cream, make sure you have a use for this small amount so it doesn’t go to waste. Doubling the recipe will give you 1/2 cup, which is a measurement that is a bit more useful in recipes and enough for a bit of topping for a dessert.
- It’s also easier to find a use for 4 egg whites rather than just two! Doubling the recipe gives a greater chance of using up the egg whites as well as the cream.
- I use beans instead of pie weights, and I’ve used the same beans for years. I keep them in a small canister that I think came with popcorn from the boy scouts or a school fund raiser. It’s the perfect size. If I’m baking a lot of pies during a time period, I reuse the foil, too, and just fold it and keep it inside.
- Pie Crust: I buy the prepared during the Holidays when there are great sales and coupons available, and then put them in my freezer. Last year I picked up 10 double crusts at no cost. I have to admit, I cringed a bit at the ingredients, but the time factor is important enough for me to make a judgment call. Cost for me: Free; cost for home-made using butter: $1.15.
- Bacon: Used to be an inexpensive ingredient, its price has risen with its popularity. Let’s face it, bacon isn’t the healthiest – we seldom use it here on its own as a meat, but do use it in small amounts in recipes, where I consider it as a “flavoring” rather than a protein. I buy on store specials and take advantage of coupons – my go to price is between $2.00 and $3.00 a package, although I have several packs in my freezer bought at about 50 cents each. I freeze until needed, partially thaw (until a knife will go through) and cut across the bacon from top to bottom. 1/16th is the same size as a strip. I wrap the bacon back up and freeze again. If we’re making something like a BLT, I’ll think about cooking a bit extra for something like this recipe. Cost for the bacon, $2.89 a pound, 4 slices (4 ounces) is 72 cents.
- Eggs: Stock up on eggs when they’re inexpensive, normally during Holiday weeks. Low prices in my area range from free (often with other purchases) to anywhere from 50 to 88 cents. They last for weeks in the fridge – The date on the container is a ‘buy’ date, and you can expect them to last a good six weeks past that date. If you pick up two or three packages when they’re at their low, you’ll rarely need to pay full price.Refrigerate right away and never store in the door; eggs keep best in a colder part of the refrigerator, in their own box. (Then put your partially used vegetables in the door where you’ll see them and remember they need to be used ASAP – the half a bell pepper or onion, etc.) In doubt about an egg? If it floats in water, discard, just to be on the safe side. Cost for 4 at 88 cents a dozen? about 28 cents.
- Milk: Buy on sale – unopened it keeps a bit past it’s “sell by” date – then you can pick up one for the beginning of the week, and another at the end of the week for the week following.Be careful with your milk, and even opened it will last a lot longer – pour, lid and put away, don’t bring it to the table or leave it on the counter while you eat dinner or down your cereal and you’ll notice it stay fresh last MUCH longer. We’ve cut way back on dairy, as most health experts suggest – putting it away helps with that, too. Cost for a cup, about 8 cents.
- Cream: Buy on sale during Holiday weeks; it’s often priced much lower than usual and sometimes there are coupons. It keeps for a good, long time unopened in the fridge. Always compare the cost of cream to half and half if you don’t need full cream. Milk is a lot cheaper, about 8 cents a cup, so half and half should be roughly half the price (minus the 8 cents) of the same amount of cream to be a good value. The cream I bought was $1.49 for two cups, so for this recipe, 75 cents.
- Gruyere: I substitute a grocery store Swiss to save cost. Cheese is an item that I almost always buy on sale. Often with store specials, coupons and special offers from the producers I can get cheese very cheaply, and sometimes at no cost. I’ll stock up then – if it’s not open, it keeps forever. If I have to freeze, I will sometimes do this – it’s ok when used in a casserole, but not very good for eating. I look for a price of a dollar (or less) for an eight ounce block of store cheese. Cost 50 cents.
- Note on the Salad Pricing: The Mushrooms were 89 cents a package (used four or five), the Spinach $1.49 a bunch (used about 1/2), the tomatoes 99 cents a pound (used 2, about 10 ounces 60 cents.) Red Onion was nominal. Added about 2 tablespoons of oil and vinegar. Cost about $1.50.
Put Your own Spin on It:
For Crabmeat Quiche: Reduce milk and cream to 3/4 cup each. Add two tablespoons dry sherry and a pinch of cayenne to custard mixture. Use eight ounces of crab with two tablespoons chopped fresh chives instead of bacon and cheese.
- For Ham and Asparagus Quiche: Blanch 8 spears of asparagus, cut on the bias to one inch pieces, till tender but still crisp, about two minutes. Reduce cream and milk to 3/4 cup each. Replace bacon and cheese with asparagus and 8 ounces of ham. Ham should be in 1/4″ fine dice.
- Quiche is amazingly versatile: You can fill it with all kinds of cheese, more cheese, different ingredients, all kinds of vegetables (just make certain they are precooked a little and well drained so they don’t weep.)
- I’ll throw leftovers into a Quiche, especially leftover greens like turnip greens or spinach.
- You can think of flavor combinations you might like – think of your favorite sandwich, or favorite Italian or Mexican meal – whatever you love together will probably taste great in a Quiche.
My Pay Off:
Two meals made at a budget price, with leftovers, because you know I’ll double and freeze, and have a leg up next time I want to serve one. Simply because they’re so rich, we don’t often have Quiche, but it’s a huge hit at our house when we do – and amazingly satisfying. It’s also a little amazing to me how a few simple, inexpensive ingredients can come together so quickly in a Quiche: a couple of eggs, a pie crust and a little dairy make a great meal.
Quiche Lorraine made February 2012 at $3.41, repriced February 2014 for $3.48.