Urban Cowboy Quiche comes with a spicy kick
After taking a winter hiatus, my laying hens are back to earning their keep. Accumulating fresh yard eggs creates an interesting dilemma for the owner of a backyard coop: share the spoils of raising chickens or hunt for egg-based recipes to reduce inventory. We are fond of both approaches at my house.
The bright pepper pesto is the perfect foil to this quiche’s creamy, cheesy filling. Before you get started with peppers, you need to understand their heat. The Scoville scale, invented by American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville in 1912, is used to measure the spicy heat of chile peppers by calculating their capsaicin levels. Capsaicin is a chemical compound that stimulates chemoreceptor nerve endings in the skin, especially the mucous membranes. The number of Scoville heat units — SHU — indicates the amount of capsaicin present, which translates into the pepper’s intensity. The higher the number, the higher the heat.
Jalapeño pepper picking tip: Easy to identify and commonly available, these peppers take home the people’s choice trophy. Their heat, derived almost exclusively from the seeds, is pretty basic and straightforward, falling in the 3,500 to 8,000 SHU range.
When selecting peppers, zero in on their striations, or lack thereof. Those white marks indicate periods of growth. Any pepper sporting them will be much hotter than their smooth-skinned bin partners. You could think of them as spiciness stretch marks. Buy accordingly.
Urban Cowboy Quiche
1 3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1⁄2 teaspoon fleur de sel
1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cubed
3 tablespoons cold lard, cubed
4 ounces soft goat cheese
1 tablespoon canola oil
12 ounces Mexican chorizo, casings removed
11⁄2 cups grated fontina cheese
1⁄4 cup finely grated cotija cheese
3 tablespoons chives, thinly sliced
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
Making the crust: Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add the cold butter and lard to the flour mixture and pulse until large crumbs begin to form. Add ice water a few tablespoons at a time, pulsing, until the dough just comes together. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Lightly flour a large surface and roll the dough into a 12-inch round. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch deep-dish fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, gently pressing it into the sides. Trim away the excess dough. Cover with plastic wrap and return it to the refrigerator. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet, line the dough with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans.
Bake until the edge is lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Remove the weights and parchment and bake until golden, about 20 more minutes. Let cool slightly on a rack.
Making the filling: Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the chorizo and break it into smaller pieces and cook through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate using a slotted spatula and let cool slightly. Blot with another paper towel to absorb oil.
Scatter the fontina, cotija, chives and chorizo over the crust.
Whisk the eggs in a large bowl; add the milk and cream and whisk until smooth. Pour into the crust. Crumble goat cheese evenly on top.
Bake until the crust is deep golden brown and the edge is set but the center still jiggles slightly, about 50 minutes. Cool at least 20 minutes before serving. Serve with pepper pesto.
Spicy Pepper Pesto
3 jalapeño peppers
2 poblano peppers
11⁄2 cups fresh cilantro, packed
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons pecans
1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup grated Parmigiano-
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the broiler. Put the jalapeño and poblano peppers on a baking sheet and broil, turning, until charred, about 5 minutes. Remove the stems and seeds (leaving seeds behind will increase the pesto’s heat).
Put the peppers, cilantro, garlic, pecans and olive oil in a food processor or Vitamix and pulse until the mixture has a pesto-like consistency. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano; pulse a few more times. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Alicia Cahill is the owner of The Kitchen Chick, 528 23rd St. in Galveston.