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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cheesy Italian Sausage & Kale Quiche

Cheesy Italian Sausage & Kale Quiche
Ah yes, how I adore the four basic food groups: Bread, booze, garlic, and CHEESE.  What's that?  Those are not the four basic food groups?  Oh yes, I forgot - there are five basic food groups.  How 'bout I add fish?  Yes, that sounds much more complete.

Today's Sunday Supper menu is focusing on one of those basic food groups.  Maybe my favorite one of them all.  Well, next to bread.  Bread and CHEESE are equal in my book.  Heck bread with cheese is pretty much what I call bliss.  Anyway.  Cheese  makes everything better.

Take for example, this already stellar quiche.  It's a glorious meal; slightly spicy sausage, ribbons of kale, and piles of paper-thin shallots - all resting in a thin, crispy phyllo shell.  Sounds pretty amazing right?  How in the world could it possibly get any better?

Add. Cheese.
From creamy, tangy goat cheese to a beautifully stinky blue...from salty shards of parmesan to buttery shreds of gouda...from a creamy triple cream brie to a sharp, biting cheddar; cheese truly DOES make everything better.

Cheesy tip: If you're making a quiche, tart, or any other dish with a crust, spread your cheese directly over the crust BEFORE adding the rest of your ingredients.  It doesn't matter if you're using shredded, crumbled, or sliced cheese.  As the cheese melts, it forms a protective layer of sorts, which keeps your crust from getting soggy.

Cheesy Italian Sausage & Kale Quiche
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by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35-40 minutes
Keywords: bake breakfast entree nut-free soy-free sugar-free cheese eggs kale sausage

Ingredients (serves 6)
  • olive oil, as needed
  • 12 ounces Hot Italian Turkey Sausage (or pork)
  • 2 ounces shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2.5 ounces kale leaves (curly or Tuscan), sliced into thin ribbons
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
  • pinch of crushed red chiles
  • 6 phyllo pastry sheets
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) heavy cream
  • 4 ounces Castello Classic cheese, shredded
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until it is browned and just cooked through, ~5 minutes. Add in a drizzle of olive oil along with the shallots, and saute for another 2-3 minutes, until the shallots are just softened. Toss in the kale ribbons, fennel seeds, and crushed red chiles; saute for another 3 minutes. Remove from heat, taste and add seasoning if needed (it may not be since the sausage is usually well-seasoned); set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Brush the bottom and insides of an 8-inch springform pan with olive oil.
Brush each sheet of phyllo pastry with olive oil, and layer them at different layers into the prepared pan to form a "shell". Scatter the cheese over the bottom. Next, scatter in the sausage/kale mixture. Beat together your eggs and cream, and add about 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Pour the whole thing over the top of the filling, being sure to fill in any nooks and crannies.

Carefully slide into preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the eggs are set (but not overcooked, which will make the filling rubbery instead of tender). Remove from oven, and cool on a wire rack. Very carefully (use pot holders), release the outer springform part of the pan, and allow to cool to about room temperature before serving.

*Castello Classic is a firm, smooth cheese which tastes grassy and musky, and reminds me of a raw milk cheese; it's redolent with the taste of open air and spicy mountain herbs. If you can't find any, use something with a similar flavor and texture profile.

I like to line the bottom of my springform pan with parchment before snapping it together; this makes for an easy release and slide when I'm ready to transfer the tart to a serving plate.

Phyllo dough can be tricky to work with, unless you know a couple of tricks. Remove it from the fridge just before you're ready to work with it. Get a couple layers of paper toweling wet, and wring it dry until it doesn't drip any longer. Spread the damp paper towel over the extra phyllo dough while you're working with one sheet. This helps to keep the dry, brittle sheets from breaking (though you'll still need a gentle hand).

Use an old-school, bristled pastry brush to brush the phyllo sheets with olive oil (or melted butter). The silicone ones just don't coat the surface - they will only make you frustrated.
brushing filo dough with melted butter - proper brush to use

If you cut into your quiche, and find that it is still slightly runny in the center, microwave by the slice for 2 minutes.  This might turn the crispy outside layers of phyllo slightly soft, but if you let it sit for a couple of minutes, and the phyllo "crust" will crisp right back up.  
Cheesy Italian Sausage & Kale Quiche