Friday, February 6, 2015

Chard and Beer Caramelized Onion Quiche

I recently read somewhere that swiss chard was in season. I can't remember where I read it, but I must not have noticed the date, because as it turns out, chard season has long since passed. Here in California we are lucky to get some lovely chard all year, grown in a greenhouse. If you aren't as fortunate then you may have to be patient and try this recipe out next summer and fall. I am particularly fond of the red chard, both for its strong flavor and the gorgeous deep red color of the stems. Because I had chard in mind I began to think of a fun dish to center around this interesting ingredient. Sweet caramelized onions, given a bit of a bite by a beer deglazing, perfectly compliment the herbaceous acidity of the chard. Small crumbles of feta provide a salty pop of flavor, the salinity balancing the almost so-bitter-it's-sweet chard. The three flavors are wonderful together in a dish, but the star of this quiche is actually the consistency: soft and creamy, reminiscent of the incredibly silken and decadent quiche we enjoyed at a cafe in Paris. The key is plenty of cream and a surfeit of finely graded melt-y cheese, such as gruyere or cheddar. Try to choose something that doesn't have too much personality. Another key to a soft quiche is to cook it for a long time at a lower temperature, just until set. I'll admit I got lazy and decided to cheat with a store bought crust. The one I chose with vegetable shortening made me not regret it. If you make a mean pie crust and don't mind the work, by all means make your own.

Red Swiss Chard and Beer Caramelized Onion Quiche with Feta Cheese

1 (10 ounce) bunch of swiss chard
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
3 ounces good ipa or another pale ale
2 Tablespoons olive oil, separated
1 ounce feta cheese crumbles
1 store bought shortening pie crust
4 ounces gruyere cheese, finely grated
1 cup heavy cream
4 eggs
tiny pinch of nutmg
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

1. Prepare the red swiss chard: chop of stems approximately 2" below the leaves and discard stems. Chop leaves and remaining bits of stem into bite sized pieces. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add 1 Tbl olive oil. Add chard and a small pinch of salt and saute about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add about 3 Tablespoons of water and cover the chard. Turn the heat down to low and allow to steam gently for about 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, caramelize the onions: saute onions in remaining olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste over medium heat, stirring every 3 - 4 minutes until caramelized (dark brown on all sides). Deglaze the pan with beer. When the chard is tender and the onions have been beer-ified, set both aside to cool.
3. Take your shortening crust out of the freezer and pre-bake it. Even if you're using a homemade crust you want to pre-bake it so it doesn't turn soggy. For a pre-made frozed crust: defrost the crust for 10 minutes while preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Pierce defrosted crust all over over with a fork and bake for 10 - 12 minutes, until the crust is barely starting to turn golden.
4. Set crust aside to cool. In a mixing bowl combine eggs, cream, gruyere, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
5. Turn oven down to 275 and and assemble quiche in cooled pie crust: layer chard, then onions, then the feta, crumbled finely. Pour egg batter over all of the ingredients.
6. Bake for 25 minutes. Turn oven up to 300 and bake for another 20 - 25 minutes, or until top begins to color and a toothpick inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean.
Serve and enjoy! The French like to serve their quiche alongside lightly dressed spring salad mix.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

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