Use savory Mexican street corn seasonings and a cheddar-cotija cheese blend to make this flavorful Chicken Broccoli Quiche. Add a touch of spice to liven up brunch, lunch, or dinner!
Why this recipe works
- Quiche is hearty enough to serve for brunch, lunch, or dinner
- You can customize the fillings to use what you have on hand
- Uses an easy egg custard ratio that produces great results every time!
When is it ok to have pie for brunch?
Ok, that's a trick question...it's always ok to have pie at brunch. But it's more acceptable if that pie is savory, like a quiche.
Now quiche can have a crust or be crustless (especially if you're following a gluten-free diet), but it's got to have that egg custard to bind all those yummy fillings. And those fillings are a great way to use leftover meats and vegetables.
For example, I had some cooked chicken in the fridge, and lots of broccoli. Plus an interesting Elote seasoning in my pantry (I'll explain what this is below). And since this is a savory quiche, why not use some sourdough starter discard as well?
Ok, looks like I'm making a Mexican Chicken Broccoli Quiche Tart with a sourdough shortcrust pastry.
Quiche is a savory custard
At its core, quiche is just a free-standing egg custard. The crust is merely a holding vessel. Most people might think of egg custard as a dessert, but really the only difference is how the custard is flavored. Is it sweetened or filled with savory ingredients?
If it's the latter, it's quiche, simple as that.
If it's going to be a dairy quiche, you can use milk, half and half, heavy cream, or a combination. Just decide how much milk vs. cream you'd like. The more cream, the richer the custard will be. You can even use a milk substitute or a savory broth if you'd prefer. It's the combination of liquid and eggs that makes it a custard.
I keep saying free-standing custard which can hold its shape, like flan. It's a cousin to pastry cream, which contains the same base of eggs and cream but has a 4 to 1 liquid to egg ratio, so it can't stand up on its own.
Also, a free-standing custard is baked to set rather than thickened on the stove with cornstarch, like pudding. I love when things are related like that.
What you need
So if savory custard makes it a quiche, how do quiches differ from one another? That's where the fillings become important, and choosing seasonings and cheeses that complement said fillings.
For my Mexican Chicken Broccoli Quiche Tart, I start with the flavors of Mexican street corn, then chose appropriate cheeses. Usually street corn is served with cotija cheese, a semi-firm white crumbly cheese (similar to feta cheese in texture). I add a Mexican cheese blend (a pre-made blend of shredded cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Queso Blanco) to round out the quiche. You can use your own preferred combinations.
For the street corn flavors, I used Trader Joes' Everything but the Elote seasoning blend. It's made up of chile pepper, Parmesan cheese, chipotle powder, cumin, dried cilantro, sea salt, plus some cane sugar and corn flour. You can substitute a good chili powder or taco seasonings if you prefer.
How to make a chicken quiche
Step 1: Make a shortcrust pastry
Unless you're making a crustless quiche, you'll want a sturdy crust. Pie crust for quiche works when it's served in a pie pan. Use a basic pie crust recipe or get a store-bought crust. Shortcrust pastry works great for quiches that will be served free-standing, like a tart. Since this quiche recipe will be savory, a Sourdough Shortcrust pastry fits the bill nicely.
Prepare a blind baked sourdough shortcrust pastry using a 10-inch tart pan (photo 1). Blind baking the pastry shell helps to ensure it doesn't get soggy while the custard bakes later.
Step 2: Cook the filling ingredients
Start by cooking any desired vegetables, which brings body and texture to the dish. Add a cooked protein, like bacon, sausage, or cooked chicken, which elevates the quiche to something substantial.
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the red onions and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Cook the onions until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the broccoli and sauté 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken and cook until heated, another 2 to 3 mixtures (photo 2). Remove from heat.
Step 3: Make the custard
Mix the custard ingredients together until frothy, either by hand or using a hand mixer (photo 3).
Making sure the custard has some bubbles helps to hold the mix-ins in suspension. That's especially important in a taller quiche or quiche made in a pie pan. This quiche tart isn't that tall so the suspension aspect isn't as crucial.
Step 4: Assemble the quiche
The crust is there to protect the custard from baking too quickly and getting rubbery (like the job of a water bath for a crème brûlée). Adding the filling components in layers helps to keep everything from settling to the bottom, especially for taller quiches.
Fill the shortcrust pastry shell with the cooked chicken filling. Sprinkle the cheeses on top (photo 4).
Step 5: Bake the quiche
Bake the quiche at 375˚F for 28 to 30 minutes or until the filling is mostly set (photo 5). It will be slightly jiggly in the middle, like with pecan pie.
Questions asked and answered
Here are some questions you might have...
A free-standing egg custard has a recipe ratio of 2 to 1 liquid to egg by weight (a kitchen scale comes in handy here). So a quiche containing 2 cups (or 16 ounces) of liquid would contain 4 eggs (or 8 ounces, an egg weighing about 2 ounces each).
If there's too much liquid in the custard, it won't set well. You'll end up with possibly a very soft or even runny quiche.
Most likely there is too much egg in the custard, resulting in a quiche that's too firm and possibly rubbery. That recipe ratio is important!
Blind-bake the pie crust or shortcrust pastry you're using. That allows the moisture in the dough to evaporate and the crust solidifies before you introduce more liquid from the egg custard.
Pro Tip: How to blind bake your shortcrust pastry without pie weights
Here's a trick I learned from Smitten Kitchen to successfully blind bake pie dough and shortcrust pastry. Freeze the crust in its pan tightly covered in foil. You don't need to use pie weights or dried beans using this frozen-foil method.
- Ease the dough into a pie or tart pan and dock with a fork.
- Tear off a piece of foil that fits over the entire pan with overhang (or add extra foil as needed).
- Spray the foil with baking spray to keep it from sticking to the dough.
- Press the foil into the pan and tightly up against the sides. Bring the foil up over the rim and mold it to the sides of the pan.
- Freeze the crust for 15 minutes.
- Bake the crust with the foil at 375°F for 20 minutes. At this point the crust is par-baked.
- Carefully remove the foil from the crust. If the crust has puffed up, gently press it back down. Any tears or cracks in the crust can be repaired with dough scraps.
- Return the crust to the oven and bake the crust until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes more.
There you have it. No more slumping sides or messing around with dried beans. I'm all in for that!
Pie for brunch, lunch, or dinner
Savory, spicy (but not too much), salty, and substantial, this Mexican Chicken Quiche recipe produces a dish with lots of flavor. It's perfect for brunch or lunch. Paired with a Caesar salad (with homemade Caesar salad dressing, of course!), a chicken quiche makes a nice, light dinner.
Have a hankering for pie? You can turn eggs, your dairy of choice, and some leftovers into a meal. Make yourself a quiche (with a crust or crustless) using whatever filings and seasonings you'd like.
Of course, remember to save room for pie for dessert!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Custards come in many forms, but the method is similar across the board. Luckily, the technique is easy to master, and you'll be able to make a whole range of treats!
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Mexican Chicken Broccoli Quiche Tart
For the pastry
- 1 recipe sourdough shortcrust pastry
For the filling
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup red onion, diced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1 cup chicken, cooked and cubed
- 1 cup cotija cheese, crumbled, see Recipe Notes
- 1 cup Mexican cheese blend, shredded, see Recipe Notes
For the custard
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons Everything but the Elote seasoning blend, or your Mexican seasonings of choice, see Recipe Notes
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 375 °F.
- Prepare a blind baked sourdough shortcrust pastry using a 10-inch tart pan.
- Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the red onions and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Cook the onions until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the broccoli florets and sauté 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken and cook until heated, another 2 to 3 mixtures. Remove from heat.
- Mix the custard ingredients together until frothy, either by hand or using a hand mixer.
- Fill the shortcrust pastry shell with the cooked chicken filling. Sprinkle the cheeses on top. Pour the custard over the filling as much as you can without overflowing.
- Place the pan on a half sheet baking pan lined with a Silpat silicone mat or parchment paper to catch drips. Bake the quiche for 28 to 30 minutes or until the filling is mostly set (it will be slightly jiggly in the middle).
- Allow the quiche to cool slightly, then remove from the pan and serve warm.
- If you're making the quiche ahead, allow to cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap (still in the pan, if possible). It will keep for about a week in the refrigerator and up to a month in the freezer. Allow to defrost overnight in the refrigerator. When you're ready to serve, reheat it in a 325 °F oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through. Remove from the pan (if it hasn't been already) and serve warm.