Recipe: Hash Brown Crust Western Quiche

My blog continues to pull me in new and odd directions. I promised I would post recipes and cooking advice, and so I am. Most of the recipes I will post were developed by me entirely; a few started from an existing recipe but evolved so far that they’re no longer recognizably the same. You may ask how I learned to develop recipes like this. To some degree, I’ve simply learned from experience, but my cooking expertise was greatly enhanced by the book “CookWise: The Secrets of Cooking Revealed” by Shirley O. Corriher. This book explains what is happening at a chemical level during cooking and how each ingredient contributes to a recipe. It’s a great resource for informed experimentation.

As I mentioned in my article for Libra Fitness about controlling my sugar intake, protein is important for maintaining steady blood sugar levels to reduce sugar cravings. That’s particularly true first thing in the morning. I am not a morning person by inclination, and I always wake up hungry. It’s thus essential for me to pre-prepare healthy breakfast foods that require minimal effort in the morning. I make large batches of breakfast taco filling (a dozen eggs at a time), but that became tiresome as my only option. I thought about quiches, but most quiches use a pastry crust, which requires non-trivial effort to make from scratch properly. (I haven’t seen any pre-made pie crusts with organic ingredients in a store, just the Pillsbury brand.) Then I saw a recipe for a hash brown casserole, which gave me the idea to experiment with using hash browns to make a crust.

I do recommend and generally use all organic ingredients. I confess that the pre-prepared hash brown potatoes I buy are not organic, though they at least contain nothing but potatoes. Peeling and grating potatoes is more work than I wish to undertake regularly. I sometimes use fresh onions and peppers; at other times I use an organic frozen onion and pepper blend (often called a fajita pepper blend or similar.) And after tasting the difference between a boiled regular grocery store egg and a boiled organic, omega-3 enhanced egg, I will never willingly go back to using the former for anything.


Hash Brown Crust Western Quiche

Oven: 425 degrees F (220 C)
Cooking Time: 20 minutes (crust only), then 30 minutes (crust and filling).

Ingredients:
10-12 ounces shredded potatoes
3 tablespoons melted butter

2/3 cup diced ham
2/3 cup shredded cheese: Cheddar or Monterey Jack (or a mix of those)
1/4 cup diced onions
1/4 cup diced green pepper
1/4 cup diced red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (optional, or substitute other appropriate spices)

2 eggs
1 cup half-and-half

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 C).
  2. Combine the melted butter and potatoes in a bowl, then press this mixture into the bottom and sides of an ungreased 9 inch pie pan.
  3. Bake the potato crust (at 425 degrees F) for 20 minutes.
  4. While the potato crust is baking (or before):
    • Optional step: Some people find the taste of raw or lightly cooked green and red peppers to be too strong. If so, briefly sauté the onions and peppers in a bit of canola or olive oil, stopping when the onions are just starting to turn translucent.
    • Mix the ham, cheese, peppers, onion, salt, and pepper/spices in a bowl.
    • In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs and half-and-half.
  5. Spread the ham, cheese, and vegetable mix evenly over the potatoes. Pour the egg mixture over it. The liquid should come up to roughly the top of the ham, cheese, and vegetable layer.
  6. Return the pan to the oven and bake (at 425 degrees F) for 30 minutes or until the custard has completely set. (A knife inserted into the center should come out clean.) It can sometimes get a little overdone towards the edges; aluminum foil or a pie crust shield can help.

I typically double the recipe, making two at one time (freezing one for later), because the pre-prepared hash brown potatoes I buy come in 20-24 oz. bags.

The hash brown crust could of course be used with any other quiche filling you like.

I like to top a slice of this quiche with salsa when eating it. I find both a tomato-jalapeno salsa or a green tomatillo salsa work well.