Quiche Lorraine with Tasso

We love quiche. It's perfect in any season. This baked egg custard can serve as a last-minute weeknight supper or the fancy centerpiece at a Sunday brunch. Quiche is almost foolproof and takes to just about any ingredients. Bake it in advance, and it's just as good at room temp. You can't go wrong! This quiche makes use of tasso--a long-smoked, highly spiced Cajun meat. But any smoked sausage or bacon will work, too.

For the pie crust:
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
2 tablespoons vodka, cold
2 tablespoons cold water

Process 3/4 cups flour, salt, and sugar together in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining 1/2 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.
Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten dough into 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Leave overhanging dough in place; refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.
Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Flute dough or press the tines of a fork against dough to flatten it against rim of pie plate. Refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.

For the Quiche:

¾ cup finely diced tasso
3 Tbl Shallot Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 green onions, chopped
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese, divided
8 large eggs
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground Cayenne
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg*

Fit the pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate, fold the edges under, and crimp. Bake at 400 degrees for 7 minutes; remove from the oven. Cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, heat the Shallot Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a large skillet and cook the tasso until slightly crisp. Sprinkle the tasso, green onions, and 1 cup of cheese into the prepared crust. Whisk together the eggs and the next 4 ingredients; pour into the pie crust, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and nutmeg. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until set. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

*Note about Nutmeg: Just about every white, creamy sauce (Alfredo, Bechamel, Cheese Sauce) benefits from a pinch of Nutmeg. The use of nutmeg in these applications goes back to classical French sauce making techniques. Nutmeg adds a layer of almost indistinguishable, but necessary, flavor to the rich sauces. The same goes for quiche. Nutmeg seems to help cut the richness and adds depth. Just a pinch will do. The dish shouldn't shout, "NUTMEG!" 


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