As a child, true fear was found in the warmth between a hen and her eggs; soon and perpetually rooted in red ridges up and down the length of my pale freckled arms.
But, it was a fear worth facing; an injury worth owning.
It took a lot of working up, but in that moment of bravery, or something like it, I’d managed to capture my treasure. A dreamy-blue egg, now clasped between my uncertain and unbelieving hands.
It was perfect.
Victorious, I raced through the coop for the house, ever wary of roosters along the way.
Though we never dined on our chickens (they were more pets than anything), I’m grateful to have been introduced to and intimately acquainted with food at a young age. With wonder thick around my eyes, I’d spend an eternity hunched over our incubator and waiting for life to surface. Unblinking and unmoving, I was the embodiment of fascination in those hours, breathless in watching as the chicks ponderously navigated their way out of their shells. Altogether herculean and slow, they’d force their way out and wiggle; awkward, uncomfortable, and alien; into this strange and wonderful world.
Though it’s been a decade since I last held such a perfect thing in my hands, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at an egg without being taken back to our chicken coop and the creatures that inhabited it. I’m thankful for the memories, and, of course, for everything else they give to us.
Southwestern Migas Quiche
What better way to honor the humble egg by dressing it up with cream and spice? Quiche is one of my favorite things to make and to eat, though I rarely stick to the same fillings. Inspired by a weekend staple for this round, I turned plain old migas into a fancy-looking migas quiche. Feast upon this at all times of the day a savory cumin-laden treat for your face hole. All of this is based upon this recipe from Food and Wine.
Buttery Pastry Shell
It’s a little weird to make pastry in a stand mixer, but it works. Don’t question it. This crust is flaky and a little shortbread-y in texture, perfectly matched for the hefty filling to come.
2 c flour, divided
1 tsp salt
1 c butter, cold and cut into 1/4” dice
1/4 c ice water
Place 1 cup of the flour and all of the salt in your stand mixer. Fit in the paddle attachment. On low speed, add one handful of butter, and mix until pretty well combined, about 45 seconds. Add another handful and continue in this fashion until all of the butter has been added. At this point, increase the speed to medium and mix until uniform. Blend in the remaining cup of flour.
Tip in the water and mix just to combine. Press dough into a flat round and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least one hour, or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.
Dust your work surface with flour and dust the top of the pastry as well. Roll into an even 16” circle, about 3/16” thick. Transfer to a 9” springform pan (they recommend brushing the pan with oil, but, in my experience, that always makes the crust fall), and press tightly all around, folding the extra dough over the edge of the tin and pressing to seal. Be very careful not to stretch the dough at all at this point, as it can cause tearing and stretching. Refrigerate the shell for at least 20 minutes.
Set your oven to 375F. When it’s come to temp (and when your dough is fully chilled!), place a parchment round into your shell and fill with pie weights (don’t bother buying these, just use dried beans or rice). Be very careful that the weights make it pretty much all the way up the sides or else your pastry is likely to fall. Bake the shell for about 40 minutes, or until the edge of the dough is very lightly browned.
Remove the shell from the oven and carefully remove the pie weights and parchment. Gently dock the bottom of the pastry with a fork or a knife, and return to the oven for about 15 minutes, until browned on the bottom. Remove from the oven and cool on a baking sheet.
Migas Quiche Custard
I’m always surprised by the amount of liquid just a few eggs can thicken. This quiche is very rich, but it is also very good. Use the ratio of eggs to cream and milk as a canvas to create a quiche all your own. Just don’t forget the salt!
1 tbsp butter
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
3/4 c diced green pepper
1/2 c diced onion
1 seeded jalapeno, minced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
Handful cilantro, chopped
2 big handfuls of tortilla chips, crushed
2 c whole milk
2 c heavy cream
1-2 c shredded cheddar cheese
Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Tip in the tomatoes, green pepper, onion, jalapeno, garlic, cumin, chili, salt, and cayenne, stirring to combine. Don’t worry too much about sticking exactly to the numbers above – just estimate and you’ll be fine. Quiche is lazy and forgiving. Anyway, cook all that goodness over medium heat until soft. Stir in the cilantro. Now, fold your crushed chips into the pan. Did they soak up most of the liquid? Perfect – stop cooking and set the pan aside to cool. Did they not? Either keep cooking to reduce, or add a couple more chips. You want to be careful not to add too much additional liquid to the eggs, but you’ll be fine either way. No matter what happens, definitely set everything aside to cool.
In a large bowl, combine the milk, cream, and eggs.
While you’re waiting for the filling to cool, wrap the 9” springform pan well with aluminum foil – I like to use 3 layers in all different directions – to protect your oven in case of leaks. Preheat your oven to 325F.
If you think your filling is still too hot, go outside and shovel your driveway or something. But don’t leave your oven unattended!
Ok, now that the filling is no longer scalding hot to the touch, spread it evenly, but sorta roughly, around the bottom of the cooked shell. Sprinkle with whatever amount of cheese looks pleasing to you, and pour in the custard mix.
Carefully move your quiche to the oven, and bake it for about 1 1/2 hours, until the custard is mostly set in the center. Just jiggle it if you’re uncertain.
If you’re serving the quiche on the day you bake it, let it cool on a rack until you can comfortably handle it. Remove the quiche from the pan and slice into 8 wedges. Serve warm.
If you aren’t serving day-of, which is my preference, cool the quiche completely in its pan (if it’s cold enough outside, just stick it, covered, in the garage). Once completely chilled, remove the quiche from the pan and slice into 8 wedges. Reheat in the oven (350F for probably 20-30 min) or microwave (my pref, go for like 2 min) before serving.
As a note, as delicious as this quiche is, it’s not great cold – don’t be tempted to eat it straight from the fridge because you’ll be immediately aware of the fat content by the oil slick forming on the top of your mouth 😉