Keith Allen: Perfect quiche Lorraine is worth striving for
What would we do without the quiche Lorraine? A classic French dish, it hit our palate during the Fifties and Sixties.
It would be fair to say that it helped revolutionise British food, although these days it seems to have been overtaken by a plethora of other quiches containing all sorts of ingredients. The Roux brothers, who came to London in the Sixties, played a huge part in introducing us to a new way of cooking with their French influences.
Not surprising then that Michel Roux in his excellent book ‘Pastry’ has a recipe for quiche Lorraine. He makes small ones in 10cm flan tins but we tend to make ours in a larger flan dish, about 23cm x 3cm deep. He also uses slightly salted fatty pork belly. We usually have a boiled ham on the go so we use medium-cut slices from that instead.
○Begin by making the pastry, pate brisée is perfect
○250g plain flour
○150g unsalted butter
○1tsp fine salt
○pinch of caster sugar
○1tbsp cold milk
For speed combine it all in a food processor or you can make it by hand. Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 20 minutes. Roll out the pastry to a 2-3mm thickness. Sometimes easier said than done! But if you have a marble pastry board that will help to keep it cool. I’ve seen Michel Roux in action at the Waterside Inn. He begins by removing all rings from his fingers. He will tell you that little particles of grease or dirt can hide under a ring – not good with pastry!
Dust your work surface with flour. And then use light strokes and apply even pressure to roll out the pastry, giving it quarter-turns and flipping it over like a pancake. This will prevent it from sticking and helps to keep it aerated.
You need the pastry to be 5-7cm larger all round than the tin and then lift the pastry on the rolling pin and unroll it over the tin. Lightly press the pastry into the edges of the tin and into the flutes. Trim off the excess by rolling the pin over the tin and then press a ball of spare pastry around the sides to lift the edges slightly and then make a pastry border with your fingers. Now prick the base all over with a fork to release any trapped air and chill for another 20 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 190C or use the floor in the baking oven of an AGA and blind bake for 20 minutes. You don’t want a soggy bottom. The pastry should be crisp and cooked. So if using an ordinary oven, place the quiche tin on a preheated baking tray, while the floor of the baking oven in an AGA is perfect. Remove the greaseproof paper and baking beans and cook for a further 5-6 minutes. Leave the tin and set aside to cool while you prepare the filling.
Cover the base of the quiche with the pieces of ham and 140g Gruyère cheese and prepare the custard in a bowl by whisking three egg yolks plus one egg and 300ml double cream and season with a good pinch of nutmeg, salt and freshly ground black pepper and fill to the brim with the egg mixture.
Finally, grate some more nutmeg over the top and bake in the oven at 170C for about 25 minutes until golden brown and firm. If using an AGA, cook on the grid shelf on the floor of the baking oven.
○ Keith and Lynne Allan run the Old Dairy in Ford, a Country Concept store and coffee shop. For more details telephone 01890 820325/01289 302658 or visit www.theolddairyinford.co.uk