Big-Deal Kale and Pancetta Quiche
In the culinary shocker of the century, the "world's sexiest pie" is actually a quiche. As you might imagine, it's no mere mortal quiche. It's three times taller, ten times more voluptuous, and infinitely better. This kale and pancetta quiche, based on a quiche Lorraine from Michael Ruhlman's book Ratio, is a bit of a big deal to prepare. But if you're so inclined, it's totally worth the effort. If you'd prefer a more weeknight-friendly way to use your kale, there's also a simpler frittata variation below.
For the savory pastry dough
- 12 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced and kept in the freezer
- Big pinch of fine sea salt
- 2 ounces ice water
For the filling
- 12 ounces pancetta or slab bacon, 1/4-inch dice
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 pound kale, stripped, chopped, and washed
- 6 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- A few good grinds of black pepper
- 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
Savory Pastry Dough
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the flour, butter and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade. Pulse to blend until most of the mixture looks like coarse meal, with some larger pieces of butter about the size of peas.
- With the motor running, add the ice water through the feed tube and blend very briefly to incorporate. Pick up a small handful of the dough and squeeze gently. If the dough holds together, turn it out onto a clean, dry work surface. If not, add more water by the teaspoonful and pulse just until it does. Do not overwork the dough, or it will get tough.
- Using the heel of your hand, smear the dough forward on the work surface in about 8 sections to distribute the butter. Working quickly, gather the dough into a disc shape, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the fridge to rest for a few minutes. On a lightly floured work surface or two overlapping sheets of parchment paper, roll out the dough to a scant 1/4-inch thickness. It should make a circle big enough to fit the bottom and sides of the cake pan with substantial overhang (see photo here). Place the cake pan on a baking sheet and line with parchment paper. Ease the dough into the pan, making sure it lines the bottom and sides without gaps. Cut away and reserve a few pieces from the overhang to patch any holes that arise during blind baking.
- Line the dough with a sheet of parchment paper and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the beans and parchment, patch any holes with some of the reserved dough, and bake for about 15 minutes more, until lightly browned. If any holes remain, patch with the remaining reserved dough.
Kale and Pancetta Quiche
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place the diced pancetta in a large frying pan. Sauté over medium-high heat until nicely browned and cooked through, lowering the heat if necessary as you go. Remove the pancetta with a strainer or slotted spoon to a paper-towel-lined plate and reserve. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the diced onion to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to soften but not brown. Add the chopped garlic and cook, stirring, one minute more. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
- Increase the heat to medium-high. Add a large handful of the prepared kale to the pan. Cover and cook a minute or two until slightly wilted. Toss to distribute the onions and garlic so they don't burn. Add more kale to the pan by the handful. When all the kale is in the pan, add 1/4 cup water and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, covered, for approximately 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. If the pan becomes dry, add a few additional tablespoons of water to prevent burning. Remove from heat and mix in pancetta.
- To make the custard, crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk until frothy. Add the milk, cream, salt, and pepper and whisk again until very frothy and well combined. Don't be shy with the whisk--the air will help prevent the solid ingredients from falling to the bottom of the custard while the quiche bakes.
- To assemble the quiche, gently distribute half of the kale mixture onto the bottom of the blind-baked crust. Pour half the custard over top and sprinkle with half the grated cheese. Repeat with the remaining kale mixture, custard and cheese.
- Bake for 90 minutes (or up to 2 hours if necessary), until custard is just set but still jiggles slightly when agitated. Cool to room temperature and then chill until completely cold. Serve cold by the slice.
Adadpted from Ratio by Michael Ruhlman.
For a much quicker and still delicious variation, make a frittata instead of a quiche. Omit the dough completely. Follow steps 1 through 4 above, cooking in a nonstick frying pan and using only 1/2 cup total of cream and/or milk. Add the egg mixture to the frying pan, and sprinkle the grated cheese on top. Cook without disturbing until the frittata is set on the underside. Place the pan 4 to 6 inches under the broiler until frittata is cooked through and top is lightly browned. Serve hot or at room temperature by the slice. Serves 4.
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