Rick Martínez did not grow up eating rajas con crema; the first time he tried the dish was about three years ago, as he was researching for his cookbook, Mi Cocina. “The flavors were familiar, but it was a combination of things that I had never had before,” he says. “And to me it was just so comforting.”
What he did grow up eating, and loving, was quiche. His mom had one recipe in her repertoire, likely given to her on an index card by one of her coworkers, that mixed spinach, Swiss cheese, tomatoes, and celery seed. “This is the ’70s and ’80s, so quiches weren’t crazy common, certainly in Texas,” Martínez says, but he and his dad always anticipated quiche night. So when he thought to combine the flavors of rajas con crema with quiche, it felt fated. “It’s something very new and then mashed up with something very old and comforting,” he says. “And so the combination is just sort of ultimate comfort food.”
The rajas con crema quiche emphasizes the dish’s creaminess and mellowness, mixing soft baked egg with cream, queso fresco, and sweet, starchy corn. It’s also made even richer by being baked in a deep-dish pie pan (Martínez uses one from Oxo). “You’re getting that pop of charred poblano, but everything else is just super rich and creamy and eggy,” he says. There is also, perhaps, a more historical reason these flavors go together; Martínez notes the French occupation of Mexico resulted in “quite a lot of French influence, particularly in the central part of the country in Mexico City.” French staples like bechamel sauce and crepes have since found a home in Mexican cuisine.
Like any quiche, this one is adaptable depending on what you have. Martínez says if you can find Mexican corn, it’s starchier and more toothsome than its sweeter American counterpart, but either will work fine. Also, if your grocery doesn’t have queso fresco, farmer’s cheese or dollops of ricotta will give you that creamy but fresh texture. Here, Martínez pairs the quiche with a tomatillo vinaigrette, which can be drizzled on top or tossed with a side salad, but the quiche works well with any acidic salsa or side. “It’s going to be good if you have a little something to cleanse the palate,” says Martínez, “and then go back in as if it was your first bite.”
Rajas con Crema Quiche With Tomatillo-Serrano Vinaigrette Recipe
For the crust:
2 teaspoons sugar
1½ teaspoons sea salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons cold lard or vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
5½ tablespoons ice water
For the filling and assembly:
2 large poblano chilies
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ large white onion, chopped (about ⅓ cup)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 large ear of corn, kernels removed or 1 cup frozen corn, thawed and drained
1 tablespoon sea salt
8 large eggs, at room temperature
2 ½ cups whole milk
1 cup crema (Mexican sour cream) or sour cream
4 ounces (¾ cup) crumbed queso fresco or farmers cheese
For the tomatillo-serrano vinaigrette:
8 ounces tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed and quartered
¼ small white onion, roughly chopped
1-2 serrano chilies, roughly chopped (seeds removed for mild heat)
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tablespoon light agave syrup or honey
2 teaspoons sea salt
⅓ packed cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
romaine or little gem lettuce leaves, for serving
1 (9-inch) deep dish (2-inch deep) pie plate
For the crust:
Step 1: Pulse the sugar, salt, and 2 cups flour in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and lard and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pieces of butter and lard visible, about 15 one-second pulses. With the motor running, drizzle in the vinegar and ice water and pulse until the dough is still crumbly but just holds together when squeezed (add 1 teaspoon water at a time if necessary, but be careful not to overwork the dough).
Step 2: Turn out the dough onto a work surface. Knead 1 to 2 times, pressing just to incorporate any shaggy pieces. Flatten into a 6-inch-wide disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours.
Step 3: Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 15-inch round. Transfer to a 9-inch deep-dish (6-cup) pie plate. Pick up the edges and allow the dough to slump down into the dish, letting the excess dough hang over the edge of the rim. Trim the dough, leaving about a 1-inch overhang. Fold the overhang under; pinch and crimp. Chill 30 minutes.
Step 4: Line the dough with parchment paper or foil, leaving some overhang. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the crust is dry around the edges and just beginning to lightly brown, 25 to 35 minutes. Carefully remove the parchment and weights and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake until the crust is set and begins to brown in the center, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
Do ahead: The dough can be made 3 days ahead; keep chilled, or freeze up to 2 months. The crust can be baked one day ahead; tightly wrap and store at room temperature.
For the filling and assembly:
Step 1: Using a gas stove or grill on high heat, char the poblanos directly over the flame, resting the peppers on the grates, until charred on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Alternatively, arrange a rack directly under the broiler and preheat to high. Char the poblanos on a rimmed baking sheet under the broiler, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a large bowl, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and let steam for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the stems, peel, and seeds from each pepper (use gloves if you have them!). Chop and set aside until ready to use.
Step 2: Heat the butter in a large skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium and cook onion, garlic, corn, and 1 teaspoon salt, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the poblanos and cook until any excess liquid evaporates and mixture is dry, about 1 minute. Let cool, about 30 minutes.
Step 3: Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Combine the eggs, milk, crema, and 2 teaspoons of the salt in a blender on medium-low speed until completely smooth and homogenous, about 30 seconds.
Step 4: Place the pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the bottom of crust. Top with the poblano mixture. Pour half of the custard into the crust. Transfer the quiche to the oven, then carefully pour the remaining custard into the crust (adding the rest this way will prevent it from spilling during the quiche’s transfer to the oven). Bake the quiche until its edges are set but its center slightly wobbles, 55 to 75 minutes (it will continue to set after baking). Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least 3 hours before slicing.
Do ahead: The quiche can be baked 1 day ahead. Tightly wrap and chill. Serve warm or at room temperature alongside greens drizzled with the vinaigrette.
For the vinaigrette:
Step 1: Puree the tomatillos, onion, serranos, garlic, agave syrup, and salt in a blender until smooth. Add the cilantro and puree until the cilantro is finely chopped. With the motor running on low speed, drizzle in the oil until emulsified. Taste and season with salt or agave if necessary. To thin the dressing, add a tablespoon or two of water and adjust the seasoning. Makes 2 cups.
Dina Ávila is a photographer in Portland, Oregon.
Recipe tested by Ivy Manning