How To Make A Quiche: A Guide For 'Mericans

There's nothing wrong with quiche that couldn't be fixed by just calling it goddamn Omelet Pie. Slap an off-putting, unappetizing (keesh—it sounds like an onomatopoeic rendering of a rabid vampire bat crashing through the windshield of your car to attack your neck, oh God my neck, get it off getitoffGETITOFF), exceedingly French-sounding name on an otherwise perfectly simple, straightforward foodstuff, and all of a sudden the thought of it fills people's heads with visions of sophisticated French cooking techniques and sinks full of dirty cookware and, well, vampire bats crashing through car windshields and shit. And really, that's too bad, because, leaving aside the name, quiche is perfectly unobjectionable, and contains no bats, unless you decide to put some bats in it, which, I mean, why would you even suggest that? You're kind of a gross weirdo.

So, we've established that quiche is not as gross as being attacked by a bat. This still leaves us with the question: Why make quiche? There are a few different answers to that one. The first, most obvious, and most universal, is that it's a good way to throw a (metaphorical, non-animal) bone to the vegetarian readers of your online food column so that they will pipe down for five goddamn minutes. Beyond that, though, quiche is fantastically easy and inexpensive to make, and, well-made, is as good as any omelet. For that matter, a great quiche is even better than a good omelet: It's deeper, which allows for lighter, fluffier eggs than you get in an omelet, where the eggs basically act as a bag for the fillings, and it's surrounded by a goddamn pie crust. You could drop a smelly old pair of Reebok Pumps into a pie crust and they'd be pleasant to eat.

Also, importantly and arbitrarily, you can serve quiche for dinner, whereas serving an omelet for dinner is the kind of thing a bachelor uncle does when an unexpected mishap presses him into childcare duty, because an omelet is the only thing he knows how to make, because he taught himself to make omelets back when he was squatting on a married friend's sofa in Southern California and had to make himself useful so that nobody would make too much noise about the fact that he'd told them he was coming out "for the weekend" two years ago and now the couch has a disturbingly detailed permanent imprint of his entire supine form pressed into its surface and smells like a litter box.

Now, there might be—hell, there assuredly are—fancy, labor-intensive, perfectionist quiche preparations: homemade pie crusts and home-roasted fresh vegetables and, like, fresh, locally sourced, organic brown eggs collected by hand from the free-range pasture-fed chickens you bred yourself in the urban communal farm you share with the rest of the Lumineers. I'm sure those preparations yield lovely results. I'm also sure that the following very basic, easy, pragmatic version will yield as delicious a quiche as you will ever require. Of its improbably tiny number of ingredients, you probably already have at least half in your refrigerator or freezer; the others can be had for less than 10 bucks at your local grocery store.

OK, enough preamble. Let's make quiche. To get started, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Also, thaw a frozen pie crust on your countertop.

Now, while the oven and the pie crust are warming up, it's time to prepare vegetation. When it comes to the vegetables you put in your quiche, it's of course perfectly OK to play around with different varieties until you hit on the one you like best. Spinach is great (especially if you quit with the vegetarianism and add some crumbled bacon with it); so are asparagus, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, peppers, you name it. The important things to know are: 1) Whatever veggies you use, they'll need to be chopped into pieces small enough to allow you to eventually cut the quiche into pie slices without the use of a chainsaw; 2) if you're using any veggies tougher and more fibrous than, say, tomatoes, you'll want to cook them to reasonable softness before including them in the quiche; and 3) you'll need to drain and/or press all the excess liquid out of your veggies before they can go into a quiche, so that you end up with a coherent pie-like result, rather than a nasty eggy swamp that will nonetheless probably taste OK.

So. Experiment, try different combinations of vegetables (and fungi and meat and whatever the hell)—next time you make a quiche. This time, just thaw out a bag of frozen broccoli in your stupid microwave. When that's done, open the bag, dump the broccoli onto a thick stack of paper towels, pile a few more paper towels across the top of the broccoli, and press the whole paper-towel sandwich with a plate to squeeze all the water out. Then, layer the veggies across the bottom of your now-thawed pie crust. You want a nice, crowded single layer, here, but just one layer, so that there will be room for cheese. Lots and lots of cheese.

Next up: cheese! You'll need about six ounces of shredded cheese, here. There are three different ways to go about this. You can go to a fancy cheese shop, request a precisely six-ounce block of cheese and shred it yourself; you can buy a bag of the waxier, less-flavorful pre-shredded stuff and, like, travel to an alternate universe in which you're the sort of person who would have any fucking clue about how to measure exactly six ounces of it; or you could just shred a bunch of friggin' cheese, eyeball it, say, "Eh, that looks like a lot of friggin' cheese," and get on with the rest of a life blissfully unburdened by the abject ridiculousness of measuring shredded cheese by volume. Just use a lot of cheese, OK?

But food person, you ask, what kind of cheese should I use? I'm so glad you asked! The answer is: Don't be an idiot. Cheese is good. Surely you like some kinds of it. Use your favorite. Unless your favorite is Processed American Cheese-Food Flaps, in which case you should swap out using your favorite in favor of re-examining your entire life. And then get a wedge of Emmentaler or Gruyère, or a block of plain old store-brand Swiss cheese, and shred it, and use that instead. Heap the shredded cheese atop the vegetables in your pie crust.

At this point, the only thing missing from your gussied-up Omelet Pie is the scrambled egg. Which means it's time to prepare eggs. In a big bowl, whip eight or so eggs together with several big glugs of heavy cream or half-and-half, where "whip" can be taken to mean "beat with such incredible violence that your arm persists in its repetitive whipping motion for several ensuing weeks, causing you to unwittingly and embarrassingly slap any small children unfortunate enough to stand near you aboard various means of public transit, thereby likely earning you a citation from a stern-faced police officer." Really give it to those eggs: 20 solid seconds of manic, wild-eyed, frantic frenzy. This will pay off in a lighter, fluffier, silkier end result, as opposed to a dense, chewy, veggie-studded egg-brick, which will make your quiche more pleasant to eat while sadly doing irreparable harm to its utility as an implement for fending off bats.

So you've beaten the living shit out of your egg-and-cream mixture. Hie that bowl over to yonder pie crust and pour the egg stuff over the cheese and vegetables in it. You ought to have enough of the egg-and-cream mixture to fill the pie crust up to the very top, but if you don't, it's OK to quickly whip together another egg or two with some more cream and dump that in there, too. (On the other hand, if you've wound up with too much egg mixture, it is not OK to drink it, but it is OK to quickly whip up some very creamy and delicious scrambled eggs in a pan with it, although, weirdly, it turns out not to be OK to then throw fistfuls of these hot scrambled eggs at the cop who gave you a hard time for smacking a bunch of kids at the bus stop.)

You're almost done now; there are just a few extremely difficult and annoying French cooking techniques remaining. Psych! That's a bunch of bullshit. Stick the quiche in the oven, set a timer for an hour, and go enjoy the beautiful spring day for a while. When you come back, your quiche will be a gorgeous, golden-brown color on top; its filling will have expanded somewhat, owing to all the air you beat into it. It will also be done cooking. Yank that thing out of the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes, then serve.

Chilled white wine goes splendidly with your quiche; so does cold beer. And because it contains a lot of protein-y eggs and a lot of vegetables and a starchy crust, you needn't worry about a side dish, unless you especially want one. Tasty, right? Mmmmmmmm. Light and fluffy and delicate but not insubstantial; stretchy with melted cheese but not even a little bit greasy or oily; subtle and agreeable and satisfying. Totally bat-free. And, pleasantly familiar. Know why? Because it's a goddamn omelet. That's really all it is. A better, tastier, more interesting, more satisfying omelet, with a pie crust and a much uglier name.

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Albert Burneko is an eating enthusiast and father of two. His work can be found destroying everything of value in his crumbling home. Peevishly correct his foolishness at albertburneko@gmail.com. You can find lots more Foodspin at foodspin.deadspin.com.

Illustration by Devin Rochford.