Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Leek and Gruyere Quiche

Pate Brisee
1 c. all-purpose flour (5-5 1/2 oz)
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
About 3 tbsp ice water

1 large or 2 small leeks, trimmed, washed, and thinly sliced (2 cups)
3/4 c. water
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 c. grated Gruyere cheese
1 1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. For the dough:
Place the flour, salt & sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the mixture for 5-10 seconds, just until the butter is broken into small, but still visible pieces. Add the 3 tbsp ice water (you may need more or less, depending on the dryness of the flour) and process for 10-15 seconds longer. The dough may not have formed into a ball at this point; transfer to a bowl and press it gently together to form it into a ball.

3. Place the ball of dough in the center of a sheet of plastic wrap about 13-in square, and lay another piece the same size on top. Roll the dough between the two sheets to form a circle about 13 inches in diameter.

4. Remove the plastic wrap from the top of the dough and invert into a 9 1/2 x 1-inch quiche pan with a removable bottom. Before peeling the remaining sheet of plastic wrap off, use it to press the dough into place in the pan. The dough should extend about 1/2 inch above the edge of the pan. Roll or press this overhang back on the dough at the edge to make it thicker.

5. Line the dough shell with a double-thick layer of aluminum foil, pressing gently into place. (The foil should be rigid enough to hold the dough in place as it cooks.) Place the quiche pan on a cookie sheet and bake the dough for 20 minutes. Then carefully remove the foil and bake for another 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned on the inside.

6. Meanwhile, for the filling:
Place the leeks and 3/4 c. water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil, uncovered for about 5 minutes, until the water has evaporated and the leeks are soft.

7. Beat the eggs in a bowl until smooth. Stir in the salt, pepper, cheese, milk and cream. Mix in the leeks. (There should be about 4 cups of the filling mixture. Reduce the oven heat to 375 degrees.

8. Pour the filling into the pre-cooked dough in the quiche pan while still on the cookie sheet in the oven. The filling will come to the brim of the shell, and it's less likely to spill if you leave it in the oven. Cook at 375 for 20-25 minutes, until the filling is set and beautifully browned on top.

9. Let the quiche rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting it and serving. Note: this can be baked ahead and reheated, uncovered, in a 375-degree oven until warmed through.

My notes:
OK, so as I mentioned before, I foolishly decided to start making this at like, 11:30 at night. As usual, I ran into a few stumbling blocks so I had to deviate a bit from the recipe. And because I got started so late, I ended up baking off the crust and making the leek filling, but waiting until morning to fill the shell and bake the actual quiche. And let me say, Jacques was not joking about the shell being very very full. I was going to stir it a bit to distribute the leeks and cheese evenly, but it was starting to overflow, so I had to just leave it as is.

Cheats & Changes:
First off, I ended up baking this in a 9" glass pie dish. It turns out my quiche/tart pan is too big by an inch, and there was no way I would have had enough dough to cover the whole thing. I'm a bit disappointed in myself for not realizing this before I rolled the dough out. So because I had originally rolled it for a different pan, the top of it looks rather ugly. Normally, I'd do a nice fluted edge.

I did chill the dough a little bit before rolling it out. In my experience, this makes the dough much easier to roll out and work with. You really want to handle it as little as possible to keep it from becoming tough, and keeping the butter cold goes a long way towards that goal. Keeping the dough cold also keeps it from shrinking quite as much once you bake it.

Because the pie dish was much deeper than the tart pan and the filling was cold out of the fridge, I had to bake this longer, like closer to 45-50 minutes. I don't like for the whole quiche to be browned, so I baked it until the edges started to color and the center was set.

The Verdict:
It may not have looked very pretty, but it tasted pretty damn good. The friend I shared it with for lunch today also enjoyed it (Meighan, feel free to chime in!). The crust was flaky and tender, the filling was rich and velvety and packed with leeks and cheesy goodness. I think I could easily have eaten the whole thing by myself. Yeah, I'm piggy that way.

I will say, I'm not sure I cared for the way the leeks were cooked in this recipe. There was quite a bit of water left in the pan after 5 minutes, so I ended up draining it off and letting it sit to steam/evaporate a while longer. I think next time I may sweat them in a saute pan with a little oil and get them to give up all their moisture as they cook.

I would also make sure next time to have the edge of the crust come up as high as possible in the pan. I had a bit of filling overflow at one side so that it was caught between the crust and the pan. Not a big deal, just a little unsightly.

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