I had a half pack of fresh cream gasping its last breath in my fridge. I poked into all corners of my brain for a recipe (even searched the net) but all I came up with was recipes that presented no challenge. Bah!
Then I remembered…a fragment of a memory surfaced from my childhood and brought with it the taste of a dish that I had neither eaten nor cooked in ages. The best part – it used thick fresh cream. Viola! I knew what I had to do to use up the cream (I abhor food wastage in any form).
So, out came my pots and pans to make this delicious Chicken & Ham Quiche. A Quiche is a a baked flan or tart with a savoury filling thickened with eggs.
This recipe serves four hearty slices for a family and is chock full of cheesy goodness. Trust me; this is food for the soul. It is the perfect dish to serve for a brunch or even a lunch date with friends. Combine this with a fresh green salad and a glass of the bubbly of choice and you have yourself a lip-smacking, tummy satiating dish that will ensure that post the meal, you are heaped with compliments.
The only trick to make dish is getting the pie crust right. So, follow the steps exactly as I lay them down and I assure you that you will have a crust that will be crispy, flaky and buttery. The rest of the dish is just mixing the custard. That’s easy-peasy.
Note – I would recommend using a 9 inch round bake tin for this which has detachable sides (a springform baking pan). That makes it easier to remove the baked pie without breaking the crust.
CHICKEN AND HAM QUICHE
For the pie crust (pastry dough)
2 cups all purpose flour (maida)
2/3 cup of cold unsalted butter (cut into 1 cm cubes) – the butter must be cold and not melted.
1 tsp salt (If you are using salted butter (amul etc) then do not add additional salt.)
2-3 tbsp of chilled water (must be really cold to ensure that the initial dough is crumbly)
For the pastry filling
6 eggs (at room temperature)
1 cup whole cream milk (if you do not have then just add 1 tsp cornflour to your slim/toned milk)
2/3 cup of thick cream
2 cups of chicken (boiled and shredded)
Salt as per taste
1 tsp pepper powder + 1 tsp coarsely pounded pepper
1 ½ tbsp parsley/coriander, chopped fine
2 tsp red chilli flakes
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced finely (optional, as per taste)
1 cup ham (about 8-10 rashes, cooked to a crisp and then chopped)
2/3 cup of grated cheese (I used cheddar but you can use as per your taste)
Making the pastry dough – I used a food processor to make the initial part of the dough. You can also use your basic mixer jar attachment but you will need to shake it in between the pulsing to ensure that the ingredients mix properly.
To start with combine the butter and flour (salt too if you are using unsalted butter) and pulse it in a mixer/food processor till you get a crumbly mixture. It will appear like pea sized grains. At this stage gradually add the chilled water till the dough starts to come together or forms soft crumb like texture. At that point, remove it from the jar and knead it into dough. Note – do not over-knead the dough. Just knead it enough to ensure that it comes together. That is all. Over kneading the dough will make it lose its flaky texture. Wrap this dough in a cling film and refrigerate it for about 15-20 minutes or till it firms up. You can easily store it in this form in the fridge for 48 hours or store it in the deep freeze for later use.
Making the pie crust – after 15-20 minutes take out the dough from the fridge, unwrap it and roll it out on the kitchen counter. You can sprinkle some flour on the counter to ensure that the dough does not stick to the platform. Roll it evenly on all sides by applying gentle pressure. We need to make a round shape rolled out to an approximate 15-16 inch diameter. Note – Use a gentle hand. Applying more pressure will crack the dough and then it will be difficult to place it in the baking dish.
Baking the pie crust – preheat oven to 200 deg C. Grease the baking dish with butter/oil to ensure that the dough does not stick to the sides. Assemble the springform pan by locking its sides. Gently, unroll the dough from the kitchen counter and lay it into the baking tin. Note – this will take a very gentle hand as the dough will be delicate. You can also roll the dough onto your rolling pin and then gently unroll it over the tin. If it breaks then do not panic. A little patch work will ensure that your crust bakes with no cracks.
After the dough is laid in the tin, gently press it to the bottom and the sides. I prefer to use the back of a fork to press the dough on to the sides. Once it lines the tin properly, take a fork and prick holes at the bottom. We need this to ensure that the base does not bubble up during the baking process. The air needs to escape and hence the holes. Basic physics really!
Once all the above steps are completed, we need to blind bake the dough.
Blind baking is a technique in which the pie crust or other pastry is baking without the filling. It is necessary when for pies in which the filling is going to be unbaked or raw such as with pudding or cream pies. To blind bake your crust – simply, lay a sheet of parchment/baking paper on top of the pie crust (so that it covers the pie) and weigh it down with baking beads. Note – if you do not have baking beads then just use large sized grains like – chick peas, kidney beans etc. once weighed down, bake the pie at 200 deg C for 20-25 minutes and then without switching off the oven, take out the pastry crust, remove the parchment paper and beads and again bake for another 5 minutes. This kind of double baking ensures that the crust becomes crispy and golden.
Once done, remove from the oven and let the crust cool completely before you add the custard mix. A baked crust will leave the sides of the tin as in the image above.
Whilst the crust cools, you can start with assembling the ingredients for the filling.
Making the pastry filling –
In a large mixing bowl crack open the eggs and whisk till combined. Add the milk, cream, pepper powder, red chilli powder and whisk again till well combined.
Into the above solution fold in the chicken, cheese, ham, onion and chopped parsley. If you would like to add garlic then add that at this stage.
Your custard filling is ready.
Baking the pastry/pie – Preheat oven to 180 deg C.
Check the pie crust and if cooled then pour in the above custard filling and bake at 180 deg C for about 50-55 minutes. It took that long in a microwave oven but if using a regular oven or an OTG then check around the 30 minute mark.
Perform the toothpick test to see if the pie is cooked. Insert the pick in the centre of the pie (that takes the longest to cook). If it comes out clean then the pie is done.
Take out of the oven, allow to stand for 2-3 minutes.
Cut into slices and serve hot with a fresh green salad or some rolls.