Would you care for some wine with your meal? Why, yes, silly question,
hand it over here’s my glass…
Now, I will put my hands up and say that I am no expert on the subject of fermented grape juice. That fact, however, does not deter me from quaffing my fair share. Expertise requires practice and I am all about further education for my taste and wine buds. So you can guess that I was more than happy to chat with the guys at Curious Wines about trying out some wine matches for the Daily Spud. I mean, where do I sign?
What emerged as part of the conversation was the one word that most speaks to me of both wine and potatoes, which is France. Its record on the wine-making front speaks for itself. Its record on culinary uses for the potato is no less impressive. This is the country that brought you potato gratin in its many forms, including pommes anna, a study in simplicity of ingredients and elegance of presentation, plus innumerable dishes bearing the name Parmentier, after Antoine Augustin Parmentier, the original French champion of the spud.
With this is mind, I hatched a plan to make something potato-y and French, while the Curious boys very kindly sent me some French wine which they thought might make a good match. My Frenchified potatoes consisted of a quiche with spuds appearing on the double, as part of the pastry crust and as part of the filling. The other players in the quiche, apart from the requisite eggs, were caramelised onions and goats cheese. The wines were red and white burgundies – Moillard Macon Superieur and Charles Thomas Bourgogne Chardonnay.
Not one to undertake a wine-tasting task on my own, I, as CEO (Chief Edibles Officer) was joined by resident sis as CTO (Chief Tasting Officer) and our friend Tim as COO (Chief Offerings Officer i.e. he brought the desserts). Well, we were most enamoured of both wines. The white was just ever so slightly but pleasantly sweet, while the red was lighter in body than I’m used to drinking but none the worse for that. As far as the food went, there was pretty much universal agreement on the fact that the white was a better match for the quiche. The layer of distinctly sweet, caramelised onions in the quiche worked very nicely with the slight sweetness of the white while it fought a little with the tannins in the red. That did not stop us enjoying the red, however. We were nothing if not dedicated to the task at hand.
Curious Potato Quiche with Onion & Goats Cheese
This quiche is indeed, in its own way, somewhat curious, because spuds appear twice but not in any immediately identifiable form:
- I used a potato pastry crust, which is nice for savoury uses, if a little bit hard to handle. You can substitute your own preferred pastry crust here as you like.
- In an unusual (and admittedly experimental) step, I decided to grate and fry the potatoes before putting them into the quiche. The result was that they just kind of disappeared into the quiche and became part of the base. You can just replace with chunks of steamed or roasted potato if you prefer.
- 1 portion of potato pastry (see below) or use regular shortcrust pastry or pre-made as you prefer.
- 500g onion
- 100g goats cheese
- 250g potato
- 8 medium eggs
- 2-3 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil and butter for frying
You’ll also need:
- Ovenproof dish – mine was 24cm diameter and about 3cm deep – plus some dried beans to use as weights when baking the crust.
- Make a batch of potato pastry (below) or regular short-crust pastry for the crust. Following Jenni’s recommendation, once the pastry was made, I rolled it out between two layers of parchment paper and put the rolled-out dough in the fridge to rest while I got on with the fillings.
- Next, caramelise the onions, which, if you want to get them really soft and sweet, could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. So…
- Slice the onions thinly.
- Place a pan over a medium-high heat and, when hot, add about 1 tblsp of olive oil and 1 tblsp of butter.
- Add the onions to the pan and toss, so that they become well-coated with the cooking fat.
- Lower the heat and allow the onions to cook, uncovered, stirring only very occasionally, until they eventually start to turn brown, as their sugars caramelise. I stirred in 1 tsp of brown sugar about 10 minutes into the process.
- Once the onions are done, allow them to cool.
- Meanwhile, peel and grate the potato, rinse and squeeze out any excess moisture. Heat your pan again and add about a tblsp of olive oil. When hot, add the potatoes and a pinch of salt and fry for about 10 minutes until starting to get a bit tender. Remove and cool.
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Remove your rolled-out dough from the fridge, peel off one of the layers of parchment paper and place that side down on your ovenproof dish and let it slump into the dish. Peel off the other piece of parchment paper and ease the dough into the dish and then trim around the edges. If the dough insists on tearing (which I found the potato pastry had a tendency to do), just patch it up with the pastry trimmings.
- With a little knife, poke little slits in the base of the pastry for steam to escape, then line with some parchment paper or an old foil butter wrapper, filled with dried beans to weight it down.
- Bake for about 10 minutes or so, until the crust starts to set and dull a bit. Remove from the oven and remove the baking beans and paper or foil.
- Beat the eggs well and season with a little salt and black pepper and add the thyme leaves.
- Fill the quiche with the onions, potatoes, crumbled goats cheese and pour over the beaten eggs.
- Bake for around 30 minutes or until the eggs have set and the top is golden.
- Steam the potato and cut into chunks instead of grating it raw or omit the potatoes completely and perhaps add a little more goats cheese.
- Quiche for 4 to 6 – more like 4 portions if you’re just having it along with a green salad for dinner and need to sample a lot of wine with it!
I have seen versions of this in various places, including Lindsay Bareham’s In Praise of the Potato. It’s recommended for use with savoury pies, like steak and kidney, so I thought I would give it a whirl with the quiche. I will say that, while it made for a nice crust, the pastry was tricky to handle and I did have to do a lot of patching.
- 175g plain flour
- 115g cold unsalted butter
- 175g cooled mashed potato
- 0.25 tsp salt
- Boil or steam your potatoes, allow them to cool and mash well. You can cook more than you need for this recipe because there are always plenty of other things to do with spuds.
- Whisk the flour and salt together.
- Cut the butter into cubes and then rub it into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add the mashed potato and bring the lot together as a dough, kneading lightly.
- Chill for at least 15 minutes before using.