I am an unabashed Francophile when it comes to food and drink. Give me anything associated with French cuisine, and I feel instantly chic. It’s Audrey Hepburn’s fault…or rather Audrey as Sabrina. Because of that movie, I was determined to learn how to make a perfect souffle. Oh, and Eric Ripert! You don’t get much better than a handsome Frenchman with a buttery voice who is a world-renowned chef. I traveled to Grand Cayman once, in the middle of hurricane season, just to eat at Blue, his restaurant located at the Ritz-Carlton. Okay, that’s bending the truth a little. I did travel there, but not for the sole purpose of eating at his restaurant; and I didn’t know I was going to encounter bad weather because I didn’t do my reasearch. Still…isn’t it much more romantic – more French – to say it the other way?
Besides souffle, which I have mastered, a food that always makes me think of the French is quiche. Versatility being one of the best traits of this dish, I like to experiment with things I have on hand in the refrigerator and pantry to see what I can come up with. While playing around with an existing recipe I used as a personal chef, I developed the recipe below.
When I put together quiches, I always use ready-made pie crusts. I don’t have the patience to make it from scratch, chill it, roll it…(I’m annoyed already just typing the steps!) I use the rolled kind and press them into a fluted tart shell with a removable bottom so when it is finished, I can remove it entirely. It looks beautiful on a platter, tres chic!
The addition of goat cheese brought a tangy, creamy note to the custard that I thought was exceptional with the rich pancetta and earthy spinach. All the elements of this quiche make it a complete dish. It would be really lovely with a salad of tender greens and some lemony vinaigrette.
Creamy Chicken and Spinach Quiche
1 ounce pancetta, diced
1/2 small onion, sliced thin
4 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
3 ounces baby spinach
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cups milk
3 large eggs
2 ounces goat cheese, log style, room temperature
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp fresh thyme
4 ounches Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 ready-made pie crust
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll and place pie crust into 9″ fluted tart pan, or pie pan, and set aside.
Combine milk, cream, eggs, goat cheese, Dijon, and thyme in a bowl and whisk well to break up goat cheese. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat and cook pancetta until it starts to brown, but not go crisp. Add onions and saute until they soften, about 5 minutes. Season diced chicken breast with salt and pepper. Turn heat up to medium high and add diced chicken to the saute pan. Cook until chicken is just done and onions begin to turn golden. Remove pancetta, onion, and chicken mixture from the pan and set aside. Return pan to the heat and add the spinach. Cook until the spinach wilts. Remove the spinach and squeeze dry in paper towels. Dry the spinach as much as possible. Rough chop the spinach so that it is easy to distribute.
Spread the Gruyere, spinach, and pancetta, onion, and chicken mixture evenly across the bottom of the pie shell.
Pour the cream and egg mixture over the ingredients. Place tart pan on a foil-lined sheet tray and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Quiche is done with the edges begin to puff up and the middle is set.
Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving. This quiche is excellent the next day, warmed slightly in the oven or microwave.