Breakfast Pie Fit for a Man
Melissa Clark, The New York Times | Updated: August 16, 2013 15:50 IST
There is quiche Lorraine, and then there is bacon-and-egg pie. Despite the obvious similarities in ingredients (eggs, bacon, pastry crust), the two are not at all the same.
Quiche Lorraine is open-faced and creamy, involving a smooth custard lightly speckled with bits of meaty French bacon. It is refined enough to serve at elegant luncheons, and delicate enough to have, at one dark point in the 1980s, caused some quiche-eaters to question their masculinity.
Not so bacon-and-egg pie, a rustic specialty from New Zealand. Made from whole eggs that hard-cook under a pastry crust lid and fat chunks of bacon, it is closer in feeling to steak-and-kidney pie, that sturdy pub staple, than to any French confection. You can eat slices with your hands, sandwich-style, while rooting for the All Blacks (the national rugby team). There are several reasons not to try this with a slice of quiche.
The downside to the solidity of bacon-and-egg pie is that it can veer into leaden territory. You want the crust to be thick enough to hold the filling together, but not so thick that you need a cleaver to cut through it when your teeth should do fine. Using plenty of fat in the crust (either butter, shortening or lard) is mandatory to avoid toughness.
Another potential pitfall is dry eggs or squishy pastry. If you cook the pie just long enough to set the eggs (25 minutes or so), you run the risk of not baking the pastry through. But if you cook it enough to fully bake the crust (45 minutes to an hour), your eggs can toughen. An easy fix is to pre-bake the bottom crust, then roll the top crust quite thin so it can bake quickly.
A word about the bacon. You can use regular American bacon if you'd like, but you will need to brown it first. For this recipe, I chose Canadian bacon, which is leaner and more hamlike, and does not need any advance prep. It's closer to the kind of bacon used in New Zealand. Cubed ham works well, too. Vegetarians can leave out the meat and grate on some strong cheese.
The usual bacon-and-egg pie seasoning, other than salt and pepper, is Wattie's tomato sauce or ketchup. I spiked mine with chili-laden sriracha sauce. It works perfectly with the forthright flavors. And I love a little sriracha in everything. Even quiche.
Spicy Bacon and Egg Pie
Time: 90 minutes, plus chilling
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
6 ounces Canadian bacon, diced
2 scallions, white and greens parts, thinly sliced
9 large eggs
Kosher salt, as needed
Cracked black pepper, as needed
6 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons sriracha or other hot sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons ketchup
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse together flour and salt until combined. Add butter and pulse until pieces are the size of lima beans. Add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, just until dough comes together (from 4 to 8 tablespoons). There should still be flecks of butter left in the dough. Shape dough into two evenly sized discs and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least one hour before baking. (Dough can be made up to 1 week ahead.)
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disc to a 12-inch circle. (Leave the other disc in the refrigerator.) Transfer rolled dough to a 9-inch pie plate; trim and crimp edges. Chill for 30 minutes.
3. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Prick bottom of pie with a fork. Line with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil or paper and pie weights or beans. Bake until pale golden and dry to the touch, about 5 to 7 minutes more.
4. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Evenly scatter half of the bacon and half of the scallions on bottom of pie. Carefully crack 8 eggs over mixture, distributing them evenly around pie with their yolks intact. Season eggs generously with salt and pepper. Whisk together 5 tablespoons heavy cream with sriracha and ketchup. Use a teaspoon to dollop it on top of the eggs and then sprinkle with remaining bacon and scallion.
5. Lightly flour the counter. Roll out remaining disc of pie dough until 1/8-inch thick (it should be thinner than the previous dough round). Trim into 10-inch circle. Carefully place on top of the pie, pressing the edges into the side of the pie, if possible. There should be no overhang and the dough should fit almost perfectly. Use a fork to whisk together yolk from remaining egg and 1 tablespoon heavy cream. Brush top of pie with egg wash and cut 4 shallow slits in the middle of the top crust (don't go deep, you don't want to puncture the eggs). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown. Let cool for at least 20 minutes for serving.
Yield: 8 servings
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