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Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Higgidy Little Smoked Bacon and Cheddar Quiche

Having ventured a little further afield than usual for some food shopping today, I am happy to report that I have found a branch of Waitrose that has a slightly wider selection of Higgidy products... So it seems that I should do my shopping in Ruislip, not South Harrow. I guess this shouldn't be a surprise, really, but it's strange that two stores of comparable size that are only a few stops apart on the train should have such disparity in their stock.

Still... Today's snacky lunch was their smaller-sized Quiche Lorraine analogue. Kind of a Quiche Camilla, I suppose. The blurb on the front describes it as "Seeded shortcrust pastry stuffed with mature cheddar & sautéed onions in a creamy free range egg filling, topped with smoked English bacon lardons". I have probably noted before that I am not a big fan of cheese (which is strange, considering how much pizza I consume), and when it comes to cheddar, I tend to avoid anything labelled 'mature'. However, Higgidy's pies and quiches have brought be a new appreciation of feta, so I felt confident in giving this one a try. Let's face it, any kind of cheese put into a quiche is going to end up milder than it would be as a brick of cheese.

Yet again, I must congratulate Higgidy on their detailed ingredients list. It's broken down into the filling, the pastry and the bacon (who knew bacon had ingredients? OK, being serious, they list the antioxidant, preservative and the additional salt), and it's all there for anyone who wants to risk making one themselves, or for those of us who gobble the quiche down and then wonder "how did they make it so tasty?"

Because, dear reader, as someone who will sample any quiche that features bacon amongst its constituents, I must say this one was remarkably smooth of filling. You know how quiche can sometimes have a texture that's actually not far off omelette or, at the opposite end of the scale, not that far off glue? Well, Higgidy's quiche filling - in the couple I've tried so far - has been, without fail, one of the finest, lightest and smoothest fillings I've yet experienced. A quick glance at the ingredients list allows one to deduce the method by which this is accomplished. Yer average Quiche Lorraine fillin' is made up of eggs, cheese, milk and cream, seasoned to taste. This fillin' is made with Béchamel sauce, eggs, cheese, butter and a whole host of other goodies. Considering the Béchamel sauce (ingredients listed separately!) contains cream and butter, one could be forgiven for expecting the end result to be a little greasy... and yet it isn't. It's just perfectly smooth.

The other thing that so often goes wrong in a quiche is that the filling has little or no flavour in and of itself, so the additional contents have a chance to shine through. No such trouble with this quiche - the egg, the cheese, even the hints of mustard have their own subtle notes in every bite. The onion adds a gently sweet-yet-savoury twist, and the bacon still manages to present a flavour of its own... and it's really good bacon, too. Normally, when I see the term 'lardons', I expect small morsels of meat with plenty of lard on (har har - see what I did there?), but this bacon is very well balanced, cooked to prefection, and only slightly salty. Very much in the 'just right' category.

The pastry is the usual Higgidy seeded shortcrust, which is nice and soft on a quiche when eaten cold, but crisps up perfectly when either quiche or pie is heated. And, as usual, the appropriate amount of pastry has been used - not too thick, not too thin.

And this one I ate cold, pretty much straight from the fridge... I'm very keen to find out what it tastes like when heated.

Convenient, then, that I bought two...

Addendum: Fresh from the oven, this quiche is even better than it is when served cold. The bacon crisps up nicely, and the filling virtually liquefies, retaining all its flavour and smoothness. Whenever I pick these up in future, I'm going to have to think very carefully about whether I want the instant gratification of an amazing quiche straight from the fridge, or whether I can stand to wait long enough to delight in the cooked version. I guess it's going to have to depend on (a) how much time I have to eat, (b) whether I'm having it on its own or as part of a larger meal and (c) what I have available to accompany it.

Excellent stuff, all round.

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