If you’ve had potato pancakes (or some version thereof), love fondu, and think the inventors of raclette should simplify things by getting rid of a kitchen applicance you use once every two years, I’ve got good news for you in this recipe. And, yes, this was my eclectic inspiration for this recipe — that and a bundle of leeks and a bag of beautiful red potatoes from my CSA that were screaming for inspiration, especially since my freezer is already full of potato-leek soup from a previous CSA.
The recipe that follows is actually pretty darn easy — the only trick is preparing the crust and once you literally get your hands in there, it’s a breeze and it will apply a comforting salve to any winter blues that might approach.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 75 minutes
Total Time: 90 minutes
For the Potato Crust
½ cup grated onion
½ teaspoon fresh thyme (a couple of springs)
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup brown-rice flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour)
1½ pounds (4-5 medium) red potatoes (washed but unpeeled)
For the Filling
2 tablespoons olive oil
2½ cups leek (2 medium-sized), thinly sliced, washed, and drained
200 gr. (or ½ lb) cubed pancetta or double-smoked bacon, thickly sliced and cubed
salt and pepper to taste
1½ cups grated cheese (any combination of Gruyère, Jarlsberg, Fontina or Swiss cheeses)
5 large eggs
½ cup milk
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Grease a 10-inch deep-dish pie pan. I chose a Pyrex pie pan vs. a traditional quiche pan to make it easier to sculpt the potato crust and to lever the quiche out at the end.
- Coarsely grate the onions into a strainer and drain for 10 minutes over a bowl or in the sink, pressing out the extra liquid.
- When the onions are drained, transfer them to a bowl and combine them with the salt, thyme and flour. In my case, I’ve used brown rice flour as the binder to keep this gluten-free. However, if you’re not cooking for anyone with a gluten aversion, and you don’t have brown-rice flour in your kitchen, don’t fret – regular flour will do well.
- Grate the potatoes into the strainer and sprinkle with teaspoon of salt. I prefer the rusticness and colour by using unpeeled potatoes – plus they’re packed with more nutrients. Let stand over a bowl or in the sink for 10 minutes with a weighted bowl. After letting stand, squeeze out any extra liquid – I use my hands at this point, taking out handfuls and squeezing as much water out with my hands. The point is to remove as much of the liquid as possible. Add potatoes to the onion mixture and combine. Taste for salt and adjust as necessary (I know, raw potato doesn’t taste great, but you want to get the salt right at this point, so trust me). You may also add another tablespoon of flour at this point if the mixture looks ‘wet.’
- Press the mixture evenly into buttered pie pan and up the sides. Bake for 20minutes to cook off any water still in the mixture. Keep an eye on it. If it is ‘dry’ earlier, remove earlier. It all depends on how well you’ve strained the ingredients in preparing the rösti crust. It will be steaming when you remove it, so be careful!
- When dry, remove from oven and brush the rösti liberally with olive oil and bake for an additional 10 minutes more, until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven to 350°F.
- While the crust is doing its thing, prepare the filling: slice and clean the leeks and then heat oliveoil in a stainless steel or cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. You’re going to caramelize the leeks and, as such, I don’t recommend non-stick pans for this as by their nature, they impede the caramelization process. When the pan is hot, add the leeks and pancetta and cook until both are nicely browned. Season with salt and pepper to taste and let cool while you prepare the eggs and cheese.
- In terms of the cheese, simply choose your favourites. As mentioned, the inspiration here is sort of a cross between fondu and raclette, so I choose a combination (half-and-half) of cheeses that have some strength (e.g. Gruyère) and low melting point (e.g. Fontina or Jarlsberg). Grate them together until you have about a cup-and-a-half and set aside.
- Whisk the eggs together and then add the milk and season slightly with salt and pepper.
- Transfer the caramelized leeks and pancetta to the baked crust, cover evenly with the cheese, and then slowly pour the egg mixture over top.
- Return the quiche to the oven and bake for another 35 minutes, until the center is set. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before slicing.
Serves 6-8 depending on appetite and what you serve it with. I served it with my Roasted Red-Kuri Squash Salad as a starter.