Monday, October 20, 2008

In search of a better quiche crust - part five

Once more into the laboratory. My last attempt at a crumb crust was bread crumbs mixed with cheese and blinded. This time I'm trying cracker crumbs instead. I've tried crackers previously with butter but the results weren't great and it added a lot of fat with no real benefit.

This time I'm trying a different, more appropriate I'm hoping, type of cracker, mixing it with just one Tablespoon of butter along with a half cup of grated cheese to see how that goes.

The particular crackers I choose are Finn crisps. Mild in flavor, not covered with any sort of flavoring dust, crisp and not too fibrous. I ran some through my spice grinder but they turned to dust so I ground the rest with a mortar and pestle to get some texture.

For the cheese, I used a cream havarti: a good melter without an overwhelming character so it should match well with whatever vegetables I dig out of the refrigerator. One problem I had last time was distributing the long strands of grated cheese. This time I made certain to always keep the shortest dimension of the piece of cheese perpendicular to the direction I was grating in. It's a pain in the butt and against every instinct, but I was rewarded with inch long fine shreds that mixed easily and uniformly with the cracker crumbs.

After 10 minutes at 350 degrees it's difficult to see much difference but a close inspection reveals areas where the cheese melted into the crumbs and bubbled up. The bubbles are coated with cracker dust so they're well camouflaged. It looks promising, but then so did the breadcrumb crust and that turned out rather oddly. I grated a bit of Parmesan over the crust as extra waterproofing before filling the crust.

For the filling, I sautéed some broccolini along with onions and peppers. Getting them good and browned as that really brings out broccolini's flavor. When they were ready I added a handful of chopped tomato, some ham and deglazed the pan with an Argentinean torrontés, whatever the heck that is. It has a tart flavor that I think goes well with the broccolini.

I decided to wing it on the custard as I think I've made enough to have the hang of them. I used four eggs, a cup of milk and a half cup of sour cream. Should be interesting.

Then into the over for 22 minutes at 350 degrees before I realized that it was supposed to be at 375. I checked it after a half hour and a knife in the center comes out clean so I guess it's done despite that. Well, a little on the underdone side as it turns out, but since I'm going to be freezing and reheating most of it, that's for the best.

Here's the bottom. You can see that this time the crust remained a separate layer. It isn't crisp, but it holds together and is firm to the bite. The flavor of the crackers comes through, though, distinct from the quiche proper, and a lovely counterpoint to the other flavors. I think I can call this a success; this is a proper crust. Not difficult at all and relatively low fat with the addition of only one Tablespoon of butter and a quarter cup of extra cheese that wasn't going to go into the quiche anyway.

The quiche itself itself is quite good: smooth, creamy and flavorful. the sour cream was fresh so there's not a whole lot of sour going on, but I think it helped out the texture nicely. There are the occasional pockets where the sour cream wasn't mixed in entirely that add another element of flavor to the dish. The chewiness of the ham is a nice contrast to the other textures and its smokey flavor goes particularly well with the lightly charred broccolini. Overall, it's one darn fine quiche.


kat said...

sounds like a good quiche to me. Interesting use of the Finn crackers, I would have never thought of this

billjac said...

I've been thinking a bit more about crumb crusts and I wonder if all the butter usually put into them is less about flavor and more about giving it enough structure to climb up the vertical sides of a springform pan. If so, it makes sense that far less fat is needed to make it work in a shallow pie pan like I was using.

I don't think I'm quite done messing about with this idea.