Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bacon & Spinach Quiche

I wish I could tell you that I formed that beautiful ridge on this Bacon & Spinach Quiche, but I didn't. A computer-operated machine in a factory did. But I just need to say - For The Record - I usually roll out my own crust with lard, but during the holiday's the mark-down at the grocery store for these babies is like stealing, so I steal a couple and put my homemade aspirations aside for the sake of thriftiness and convenience. 

After the awkwardness of having this weirdly shaped and seriously breakable item in my freezer for 3 months got to me bad, I decided it was time to give this crust some meaning. A quiche! What better way to provide fast breakfast to my family? Easy lunch. Light supper. It's a 3-4-1. And the fillings are endless. It's just an easily learned method. And I'm here to tell you about it. 

Quiche is a great pantry meal that gets on the table in under an hour - all from frozen - if needed. Take the crust out of the freezer and let it sit at room temp for about 15 minutes. Prick all over with a fork and bake at 400ºF for about 10 minutes. People are going to tell you to line your pie shell with foil or some other such nonsense. Don't listen to them. The foil is going to stick to your crust (even if you spray it with cooking spray) and leave holes in your crust and make you scream and shout. You don't need any of that stress. If you peek at it around the 6 minute mark and happen to see that crust slouching just use the back of a wooden spoon to gently return it to it's rightful place. And there will be no screaming or shouting. 
Do you save your bacon grease in a container in the fridge for later cooking? You know...when you want to make a dish with bacon flavor, but not necessarily any bacon in the dish? Like, hash browns or anything potatoe-y that's going to be cooked in a cast-iron skillet and be all brown and crispy. It's the smart thing to do. 

My brother schooled me on bacon cooking. He told me that you should always pull your bacon off before it looks done cooking. And that is the smartest thing I've ever heard about bacon cooking, because it really is the key to perfectly cooked bacon. Pull the slices off the heat when it looks "almost done." And you are going to be eating some seriously delicious bacon. 

See? Here's my bacon grease. And my Penzey's. Which, if you've never ordered from them - you should! They package their spices with enormously, beautiful bay leaves and whole nutmegs that just lay loose inside the packaging, so when you open the box it's fragrant and makes you want to whip up something delicious right then and there. 

Have you ever tried aleppo pepper? Some say that it's a tangy, more citrusy version of red chili flake. But my palate isn't that refined, so I just think it's like a less spicy red chili flake. In fact, in my opinion, I don't think it's spicy at all. It's like a kicked up black pepper. 
Jarlsberg has got to be my most favorite, all-around, goes with everything cheese. The flavor pairs with a lot of foods - it's kind of like a mild swiss cheese. It melts beautifully and when melted, the flavor even becomes more smooth and nutty. It's great plain, either sliced or cubed. And, most importantly, the kids eat it. I judge all food greatness on my children's food opinions. Just kidding. If I did that I'd be living on mac n' cheese and apple juice. 

The Jarlsberg can be substituted with swiss, mozzarella, parmesan, goat, cheddar. Anything meltable and lovable. Like me. 
Sautéing the onion and frozen spinach in a little bit of the bacon grease.
Spreading it over the now baked crust.
Topping with cheese. Can you find the funny in this picture? Clue: It has something to do with monkey feet.
I love these pie crust guards I received as a gift one Christmas. Using foil is so tedious and, frankly, wasteful. So, invest in some and you'll love 'um. Promise. 

Did you guess the funny? It's the two little monkey socks that are sitting on top of the counter "helping" me make lunch. He loves cracking eggs now. 
All done. Brown. Bubbly. Aromatic. Healthy. Cheesy. Eggy. Bacony. OK - healthy-ish.


Bacon & Spinach Quiche
Based off of ...and recipes method

4 slices bacon
1/2 onion, chopped coarsely
1 1/2 heaping cups frozen spinach, chopped
3/4 cup milk or 1/2 & 1/2
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon aleppo pepper
3/4 cup Jarlsberg cheese (or other similar), shredded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400ºF. 

Remove frozen pie crust from the freezer and let sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Prick all over with a fork and bake for 10 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool slightly.

Lay bacon strips in a (preferably) cast-iron skillet and bring up to heat over medium heat. Brown on one side, flip and continue to brown, lowering heat if bacon begins to brown too fast. Flip once more to ensure even cooking, then move to a paper-towel to drain once the bacon looks almost done. Cool slightly, then crumble into bite-sized pieces. 

Return skillet to medium heat and add chopped onions, season with salt and pepper. Stir occasionally and cook until brown around the edges and translucent in the center, about 8-10 minutes. Add spinach and give it a stir, cooking for about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

In a small bowl whisk eggs, milk, and aleppo pepper. Season with salt and pepper. 

Place baked pie shell on a cookie sheet and fill with cooked and cooled onions and spinach. Cover with the grated Jarlsberg. Pour egg mixture over the top. Place pie-crust protectors (or foil) over the edges of the pie and bake in the oven at 350ºF for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown and set in the middle. Cool slightly and serve in wedges. Can be served at room temperature. 

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