Hash Brown Quiche
Our holidays are spent with family. Family that live almost half way across the country. For the past 9 Christmases, we have packed our car full of duffel bags, blankets, laptops with movies, snacks, gifts, and Christmas cookies and travelled to visit our 39 - give or take a few - family members that live 770 miles away. Most years, the drive goes smoothly, but occasionally we hit a bump in the road. One year we were stuck in a blizzard on the off ramp of a rest stop in Ohio. Not a good time for My Middle One to be wearing flip flops. Another year No Thank You Boy played in the stacks of tires at the auto repair shop as a new alternator was installed in our car. Even with with these diversions, we would never travel any other way to get to our Christmas destination.
Every year there is the list of events we attend. Christmas Eve mass followed by eating and drinking and present opening at one of my sister-in-laws' homes, Christmas Day spent eating and drinking and opening presents at my Dad's home, an afternoon of bowling and beer and cheese fries at the local lanes, an evening at the mega movie theater to see one of the latest blockbuster releases, and a semi-traditional Polish dinner with pierogies filled with mushrooms, slightly sweet farmers cheese, and potatoes, golabki stuffed with pork and rice and a sweet and sour tomato sauce, and the sharing of opatek. This year's menu also included my niece's Polish version of the tex-mex favorite of chili con queso made with Polish sausage.
But my favorite time of our trip is not even planned. It is each morning spent around the island in my brother and sister-in-law's kitchen. A hot pot of coffee, the morning newspaper, talk of the previous evenings events and the ones planned for the coming day, and breakfast fill the next hour or two. During these relaxed mornings, the only required activity is the reading of our horoscopes. Sometimes the talk turns political and other times it centers around the latest celebrity gossip, but usually the main conversation is about what to eat for breakfast.
One snowy, cold morning I made a couple of hash brown crusted quiches. Similar to a breakfast casserole, the savory pies are a good recipe to tuck away for blustery winter mornings. By using refrigerated hash browns, there is no need to worry about grating your fingers if you start to make this breakfast before the first pot of coffee is brewed. Tossed with a good amount of melted butter and pressed into waiting pie plates, the potatoes are ready to be transformed into a crispy crust in the oven. After enjoying your first cup of coffee and whipping up the eggs, diced ham, sliced green scallions, and shredded sharp cheddar cheese, the browned potato crusts are ready to be filled. Another short stint in the oven and a second cup of coffee is all that is needed to produce the eggy, cheesy, salty and hammy with just a little bite from the scallions quiche-like pies. If you can wait a couple minutes for the slightly puffy and lightly browned pies to cool, they set up nicely so wedges can be cut. Even if you can't wait, it will still taste delicious.
Try it. You know you will like it.
Hash Brown Quiche
adapted from this Paula Deen recipe
makes 2 (9-inch) quiches
8 cups refrigerated hash browns
1 stick butter, melted
8 large eggs
2 cups half and half
1 1/2 cups diced ham
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a large bowl, toss the hash browns with the melted butter. Place half of the hash browns in each of the 2 (9-inch) pie plates and press them into the bottom and up the sides plates to form a crust. Bake for 25 - 35 minutes or until golden brown and starting to get crispy. Remove from oven and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Meanwhile, in the same bowl, add the remaining ingredients and whisk to combine. Divide evenly between the browned hash brown crusts. Return to oven and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes or until the eggs are just set. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before cutting into wedges to serve.