With the hottest summer on record for Colorado this year, it’s been dusty enough along the Front Range to make me think I landed back in Nevada if I squint just right. In fact, a lot about my neighborhood reminds me of my years in Reno. From some neighbors’ colorful quirks to the few nut jobs who water their emerald lawns twice a day to maintain delusions that they live in a temperate climate and not a semi-arid one, I’m reminded that the American West draws all kinds to its craggy mountains and high-altitude plains.
I imagine the folks who owned our property before us were also infected with crazy juice since they thought it a good idea to apply midwestern-style turf to the lawn, the kind of grass that needs ample water to stay green. Never mind that we live in a land of little rain, and if you’re going to delude yourself into believing grass should grow in your yard, you should at least get a drought-tolerant variety. Sadly the little lawn we have long ago heaved its final breath of defeat about a month ago when we couldn’t, in good conscience, dump another ounce of water on the raggedy turf. Spring/Summer 2017 home improvement? More regionally appropriate landscaping.
In the meantime, I’m focusing on the ‘now’, thankful the interior temperature of our house no longer hovers near 90 degrees F every day. While, I’m not a fan of frigid weather that leaves my hands and feet numb for most months of the year here, after this moisture-sucking summer, I’m considering a moment of gratitude when the first snow falls in our neighborhood. In Colorado, that first snow might even arrive this month. Living a mile above sea level welcomes extremes.
Now that autumn’s on its way, I have even more excuse to pull out my favorite comfort food cookbook, Dinner Pies by Ken Haedrich. I’ve made many a skillet and pot pie since buying this cookbook last winter, and I was happy to try another of his great quiches last week. Short on time, I bought two prepared pie shells instead of making my own pie pastry, but if you have the time, you can find a link to a great pie crust recipe in the Ingredients list.
This Caramelized Onion, Bacon, and Swiss Cheese Quiche is far from low fat, but sometimes a new season calls for a celebratory dish. You can make this vegetarian friendly but omitting the bacon and replacing with browned shiitakes, well-chopped. If you don’t like onions, you’ll probably want to move on now because their sweet and tangy flavors make the recipe and are perfectly complemented by the nutty Swiss cheese.
The original recipe is supposed to make only one deep-dish pie, but I had leftover filling so I fiddled with the ingredients’ proportions to have enough filling for two quiches. Good news for folks like me who want homemade dinner every night but have less time than usual to make that goal a reality.
Caramelized Onion, Bacon, and Swiss Quiche
(adapted from Dinner Pies cookbook)
Makes 2 standard-size pies
Ingredients and directions for from-scratch crusts here (double the recipe), or buy two deep-dish prepared pie crusts
– 5 slices bacon
– 7 cups halved and thinly sliced sweet onions (about 3 large)
– 5 garlic cloves, minced
– 8 eggs
– 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
– 1/2 cup heavy cream
– 3 TBS all-purpose flour
– 1 1/2 TBS Dijon mustard
– 2 tsp dried thyme
– 3 cups grated Swiss cheese
1. If making your own pie crusts, prepare the dough and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before rolling out and prepping pie shells and placing in pans. If using prepared crusts, keep frozen until filling is ready.
2. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, and add the bacon. Fry until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate. When cool enough to handle, crumple into bits. Leave enough bacon fat in the pan to coat the bottom thickly.
3. Add the onions to the skillet and sauté, partially covered, until they’re a rich golden brown. This step took me about 30 minutes. Stir in the garlic for the last couple of minutes. Remove from heat, and preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
4. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until frothy. Whisk in the half-and-half, heavy cream, flour, mustard, thyme 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp ground black pepper.
5. To assemble pies, divide the onions between two prepared pans, spreading evening in each pie shell. Top both with reserved bacon and about half of the Swiss cheese. Whisk the custard again, and then gently pour it over the filling. Sprinkle both pies withs remaining Swiss cheese.
6. Place the pies on a cookie sheet, and bake on the center oven rack for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to bake until the filling is set, about 30 minutes more. If the top hasn’t browned to your liking, you can run the pies under your broiler. Since I’ve yet to own a stove with a working broiler, I’d skip this step. Transfer pies to a cooling rack. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold. I recommend warm so that the cheese is melted.