Autumn has been especially challenging because of corn harvest, which is currently moving at a snail's pace. Our hopes of wrapping up harvest before Thanksgiving are long gone and now the goal is Christmas. It's probably a conundrum to most of the other farmers in our valley why corn harvest takes us so long. But our operation is much different than most around here and a bit more complex. Potato harvest takes up much of our time, but after the spuds are out of the ground, that is only half the battle. A flurry of packing and delivering to various grocery stores and restaurants is constantly happening behind the scenes, all while we are caring for young steers and trying to harvest soybeans and corn before the first snowfall. We use a corn picker for much of our corn harvest, which also slows the process down. Corn pickers harvest whole ears of corn, including the kernels and cobs, whereas a combine actually removes the kernels and distributes the stalks, cobs and leaves across the field. We still rely on a corn picker because the whole ear is much more nutritious and better suited for livestock feed.
Things heat up in the kitchen as well this time of year. Last week I cranked out 80 pies and quiches for Thanksgiving...all while having some windows replaced on the back porch of our house. We are masters of chaos around here! Even though I told myself I was going to back off on the holiday baking this year, inevitably the former production baker in me kicks in and it's all coffee-fueled adrenaline insanity for a few days. The exhaustion of summer market season and endless hours of canning suspends and the intense desire to bake again returns. I'm so grateful to be able to do what I do.
I have a recipe to share with you today that is easily adaptable and totally delicious: potato crusted quiche. I made some of these for special orders this year and afterwards wondered why I didn't make all the quiche this way. We are potato farmers after all! I do love a good pie crust, but this potato crust is really a treat. If you have any guests over the holidays with special food diets and such, this quiche is naturally gluten-free and the fillings can be made up of all the odds and ends leftover in your fridge. Ease, economy and elegance all in one!
Potato Crusted Quiche
Makes 1 - 8 or 9" quiche
2 small or 1 large russet potato (about 1/2-3/4 lb)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
3 extra large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup (4 ounces) cheese
1 -2 cups fillings (veggies or meats)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
Preheat an oven to 400 F. Grease an 8 or 9" round springform pan, metal cake pan or foil cake pan with straight sides that are at least 2" high.
Using a mandolin slicer or sharp knife, slice the potatoes lengthwise into thin strips, no thicker than 1/4". Toss the potato strips in olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Lay the strips in a single layer on a sheet tray. Bake them in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the strips are pliable but not brown. Let the potato strips cool while you make the filling.
Whisk the eggs, milk, cream, salt and pepper together in a bowl. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, begin layering the strips on the bottom of the pan, slightly overlapping them to create a crust. Then line the sides of the pan with slightly overlapping potato strips until the entire pan is covered.
Evenly disperse the cheese and other fillings on the bottom of the cake pan then pour the egg custard over top. Grind a bit more black pepper on top and then place on the middle rack of the oven. Turn the oven down to 350 F and bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until the quiche is set and no longer jiggles loosely. Let the quiche cool and serve at room temperature.
You can store the quiche covered in the fridge for 4-5 days. To reheat the quiche, preheat an oven to 325 F and cover with foil. Bake until warmed through, about 10-15 minutes.