Make, Jane, make!: Kielbasa, Mushroom, Leek and Cheddar Quiche


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Friday, September 30, 2011

Kielbasa, Mushroom, Leek and Cheddar Quiche

I know most people wouldn't consider quiche a quick dinner option... but it is totally one of my fallback meals when I'm at a loss for our evening meal. I like that I always have the ingredients on hand: butter, flour, eggs, milk/cream, cheese, meat of any kind, veggies of any kind. And generally, the prep time is under an hour - then it's hands-off while it bakes for another hour. If you're using a pre-made pie crust you could cut your time down to an hour from inception to consumption.

It helps that we love quiche at our house. The yummy buttery crust, soft custardy eggs mixed with any number of savoury fillings, and swimming with cheese - what's not to like? It's so easy to pair with a simple salad or soup, making it a very fulfilling meal. The only danger is that hubby and I are constantly in danger of consuming the whole quiche in one sitting. (We're both pie freaks).

So this particular night, I had some beets and eggplant from our CSA box that needed to be dealt with. Not wanting to eat either for dinner, I figured I would roast the eggplant for baba ghanoush and the beets would be frozen. That was when I decided that, since the oven would be on, baking a quiche for dinner would be the perfect solution to my mealtime woes.

First, the pie crust had to be made so that it could have some time to rest in the fridge while I prepped the quiche fillings and veggies for roasting. No food processor today for crust making... not worth getting the thing dirty for a single crust pie! (Also I knew I would need it to process my eggplant later).

Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut flour and a pinch of salt into the butter until it's all crumbly, like so:

Next add some water and stir gently with a fork until most of the crumbly bits are gone and it looks something like this:

Form into a ball, put it back into the bowl, cover with a wet dishtowel and pop it into the fridge while you prep everything else, about 20-30 minutes.

Cook the leeks in a little butter or oil until they begin to soften.

Add the mushrooms...

...and cook until they've let off most of their moisture. Usually you need to cook down any quiche ingredients that will release a lot of moisture beforehand... otherwise, it'll water down your quiche, making it very difficult for it to set. Set this aside and let it cool a bit.

Have your cheese and meat ready. You can shred your cheese if you like... I like it cubed because I find you get little bursts of intense cheesiness rather than having it melted and dispersed throughout the entire quiche.

Also get your egg and milk mixture ready. It's good to let the mixture sit for a bit after you whisk it together, so that some of the incorporated air has a chance to escape... makes the quiche more custardy and less air pocket-y (not a real word, I know) after it's cooked.

Roll out your pie crust and fit it into your pie plate. (Wonder where all your pie plates have gone, since you should have at least three of them, but now can only find one).

Pop the crust into the freezer for at least 10-15 minutes to get it nice and firm, then take it out and very lightly dock the bottom of the crust using a fork. Don't try to pierce holes into the crust, since your filling will just leak out these holes :)

(Docking lightly sticks the pie crust together so that areas like the bottom don't puff out and get too airy... I've had some filled pies actually get humps in them where the bottom crust puffed up and pushed the filling over the edges of my pie).

If you were going to serve this quiche at some kind of pot luck or buffet then I would recommend you blind bake the crust now. This ensures that the bottom crust stays nice and crisp even after it's been filled with the wet filling, making it possible to lift pieces of the pie up holding onto the crust alone. For a family dinner though... this step is not really necessary. My quiche crust is a bit soft on the bottom, but it'll still hold together, and you easily can lift the quiche slices with the aid of a knife or fork (similar to the soft bottom crust of an apple pie).

After docking, spread the bottom of the pie with some Dijon mustard, if you like.

Layer in your fillings and pour the egg mixture over top. (I'm using a cheapo 9 inch Pyrex glass pie plate and the measurements I give for the egg mixture should fill a pie plate of this size and depth perfectly).

Place into your preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes before checking on it. You'll probably need to lower the temperature at this time so the crust doesn't get too brown. Continue baking for another 10 - 20 minutes, for a total baking time of approximately 40-50 minutes. It should be just slightly wobbly in the middle, but not wet. If it's getting really brown all over and the middle still doesn't seem set, then cover the whole thing loosely with foil and continue baking.

Let it cool slightly before serving.


Kielbasa, Mushroom, Leek and Cheddar Quiche Yield: one 9-inch quiche

For the crust:
1/2 cup butter, cold
1 cup flour
pinch salt
1/4 cup cold water

For the filling:
2 small leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
4 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
8 oz cubed, cooked kielbasa
6 oz old cheddar, cubed
4 eggs
approx. 1-1/2 cups whole milk (or enough so that the eggs and milk together equal 2 cups total)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste

For the crust:
  1. Place the cold butter, flour and pinch of salt into a medium bowl. Cut the flour into the butter using a pastry cutter or two knives, until the mixture is crumbly and there are no butter chunks larger than a pea.
  2. Using a fork, gently stir in the water. keep mixing until the dough starts to come together and most of the loose bits of flour are incorporated. When you pinch a bit of the mixture, it should easily stick together. 
  3. Using your hands, form the dough into a tight ball and place back into the bowl.
  4. Cover with a damp dishcloth and refrigerate for at least 20-30 minutes.

For the filling:
  1. In a small pan over medium high heat, cook the leeks in some oil or butter until softened.
  2. Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt and continue cooking until the leeks and mushrooms have released most of their moisture. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  3. In a measuring cup, add 4 eggs and enough milk until you have 2 cups of egg-milk mixture. Add a scant teaspoon of salt and add pepper to taste.

To assemble:
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Remove pie dough from fridge. Roll out and fit into your pie plate. Fold the edges under and crimp as you please. Place into freezer for about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Remove crust from freezer and dock the bottom of the crust with a fork.
  4. Spread thinly with mustard.
  5. Arrange kielbasa, mushrooms and leeks, and cheese on crust.
  6. Pour egg mixture over top.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes. Check to see if the crust is over-browning.
  8. Reduce oven temperature to 350F. If the quiche or crust is too brown, cover with foil and continue baking for another 10-20 minutes or until the middle is just set and no sign of liquid egg remains. 
  9. Let rest for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

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