Loaded with chicken sausage, broccoli, and cheese, this silky crustless quiche is a hearty meal for breakfast, brunch, or dinner!
Sometimes you need crustless quiche
Yesterday was Thanksgiving in the US, and I made (and ate) pie. Lots of pie.
So it pains me to admit that, as much as I love pie (and you know I do!), I need a break from making pie crust (say it ain't so!).
Don't worry, I'll get over this phase quickly.
But now the holiday season has officially begun, and with that comes entertaining family and friends. Though it's easy to serve cookies, cakes, and pies, sometimes you need something that feeds a crowd, regardless of the meal.
Enter quiche, that versatile concoction of eggs, cream, cheese, and fillings.
Now I'll be the first to admit that I think of quiche is another form of pie. And most of the time, it is.
However, seeing that I'm on a pie-crust hiatus at the moment, making a crustless quiche seemed like a reasonable prospect. After all, 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.
Free-standing egg custard ratio
A free-standing egg custard is 2:1 liquid-to-egg (by weight...yep, a kitchen scale comes in handy here). So a quiche containing 3 cups (or 24 oz) of a milk & cream mix would have 6 eggs (or 12 oz, an egg weighing about 2 oz apiece).
The beauty of this ratio is it creates a quiche that has the silky texture of egg custard, soft but with enough body to hold the fillings in suspension.
Oh, and that cream mixture? You can 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 if you'd prefer. It's the combination of liquid and eggs that make a custard, not that it has to be dairy. Case in point, the Double Dark Chocolate Pudding I made using almond milk.
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 having a 4:1 liquid-to-egg ratio, so it can't stand up on it's own.
Also, a free-standing custard is baked to set rather than thickened on the stove with cornstarch. I love when things are related like that.
How to make a crustless quiche
I mentioned the suspended fillings above. The inspiration for this recipe came from Cozy Country Living's Savory Sausage & Broccoli Quiche, which is baked in a 9-inch pie pan.
Since my crustless quiche is higher than a quiche that's baked in a pie shell, it's good to have the filling mixed throughout rather than sunk to the bottom. Whisking the custard (that is, the cream and eggs) into a frothy mixture helps hold everything in place.
Speaking of the fillings, aside of the cream and eggs, the rest of the ingredients are completely flexible.
I chose to use fully-cooked chicken sausage (to save time), and broccoli and cheese that I had on hand. You can skip the meat to keep it vegetarian, and vary the vegetables and type of cheese to suit your taste.
Just make sure the meat (if you choose to use some) and vegetables are cooked through before pouring the custard on them. What you choose is up to you.
You might need to whip the custard more than once as you create the layers. Luckily, it comes together fairly quickly, then into the oven it goes.
Crustless quiche adapts to any meal
The texture of this crustless quiche really is silky smooth. We didn't miss the crust at all...that meant we could savor the fillings all the more.
Speaking of, the fillings made this a dish that could shine as a main course for breakfast, brunch, or dinner...add a side salad and a sourdough dinner roll and you've really got a meal.
You can, of course, make a pie crust for a deep-dish quiche (yes, you still want those layers if you can get them)...hmmm...maybe my pie-crust hiatus is about to end...
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Recipes using custard
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!
Chicken Sausage & Broccoli Crustless Quiche
- large sauté pan
- hand mixer
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cups broccoli, cut into small florets
- 1 cup red onion, small dice
- ¾ cup bell pepper, small dice
- 3 cups breakfast sausage, fully cooked, cut into ¼-inch half moons
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 6 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk, optional
- 1 tsp kosher salt, divided
- ¼ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
- 2 cups cheese, shredded
- Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the broccoli, onions, and bell peppers to the pan and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Cook until the vegetables are softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sausage and cook until heated through, another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Using a handheld mixer, blend the milk, cream, eggs, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper until frothy. This helps keep the garnishes suspended as you layer them into the pan.
- Layer ½ of the sausage mixture into the pan. Pour ½ of the frothy custard over the mixture, then sprinkle with ½ the cheese. Layer with remaining sausage mixture. Remix the batter and pour into the pan, then top with the remaining cheese.
- Place in the oven and reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the center is just set and a knife insert into the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and let the quiche sit and rest for 10 minutes, then serve warm. Alternatively, allow the quiche to cool completely and refrigerate. The quiche can be served cold, room temperature, or warmed, as you desire.