International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Migas

A pan of migas murcianas

(Portuguese, Spanish leftover bread dish)

Average: 5 (1 vote)

What started out as a simple breakfast for poor shepherds has since turned into a point of culinary pride for both Portuguese and Spaniards. Migas — which means "crumbs" in both languages — is simply leftover bread, broken up, lightly moistened, and then sauteed with whatever other ingredients might be on hand.

Additions vary by region, but garlic and olive oil are almost always included. Other commonly tossed-in tidbits include meats and sausages, leafy greens, peppers and beans. The whole mix is often seasoned with a good sprinkling of paprika.

The best bread for migas is a hearty, chewy country loaf. In parts of Portugal, using broa cornbread is traditional. Soft white bread or baguettes will turn out too mushy.

The main recipe here is for a Spanish-style migas as it might be made in Andalusia, La Mancha or Extremadura. See the variations below for Portuguese-style migas and other options.

Serve migas as an easy meal on their own or as a side to roasted or grilled meats.

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • Leftover crusty bread -- 1 loaf, or about 1 pound
  • Water -- 1/4 cup
  • Salt -- 1 teaspoon
  • Olive oil -- 2 or 3 tablespoons
  • Garlic, minced -- 2 or 3 cloves
  • Spanish chorizo, cut into rounds -- 1/2 pound
  • Red bell peppers (optional), cut into dice -- 2
  • Sweet paprika (optional) -- 2 teaspoons
  • Salt and pepper -- to season
  • Water, stock or drippings -- as needed to moisten

Method

  1. Cut or tear the bread into small pieces and place in a medium bowl. Add the salt and sprinkle the water over the bread. Toss well with your hands to lightly moisten the bread. Cover and let set for at least one hour, or overnight if you'll be making migas for breakfast.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium flame. Add the garlic, chorizo and peppers and saute until the garlic is lightly browned and the peppers are almost cooked through but still firm.
  3. Stir in the moistened bread, paprika, salt and pepper and continue to saute, stirring and turning the mixture occasionally and pressing it down into the pan to brown on the bottom. Add a little water, stock or drippings as needed to keep the migas lightly moist.
  4. When the migas are heated through and have plenty of browned bits, adjust seasoning to taste and turn them out into a serving dish. Serve immediately.

Migas Variations

  • Meats: Use what you have on hand. Pork is popular: bacon, pancetta, serrano ham, chunks of cooked pork loin or pork ribs, chorizo or other sausages. Or try leftover shredded chicken, fresh sardines, or chopped hard-boiled eggs.
  • Vegetables: Greens like kale, chard or spinach go very well in migas. Beans or black-eyed peas add heft and protein to meatless migas. For extra flavor and color, stir in tomatoes, asparagus or even grapes.
  • Seasonings: Fairly simple here. Mostly garlic and good quality paprika.
  • Portuguese migas: Use wheat bread or broa cornbread and add cooked kidney beans or black-eyed peas and finely chopped kale.
  • North American migas: Mexican and Tex-Mex migas is a different dish, similar to chilaquiles. Fried corn tortillas strips are cooked with eggs to make a filling and tasty scrambled egg dish.

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