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My grandmother's migas

>> Sunday, November 15, 2009

I had been feeling like making migas for some weeks already, so I was very happy when charming Mel from Bouchon for 2 asked me to put up a guest post for her while she's on vacation (lucky girl!). She wanted a Spanish family dish and I couldn't have found a more traditional one than migas. Thanks, Mel!

First of all I shall explain what migas are. Migas means crumbs,
literally. To prepare them you just need a hunk of stale bread, some charcuterie, cloves of garlic and olive oil for frying. It was formerly shepherd's fare, something easy to prepare for the shepherds while up on the mountains, and also popular among peasants. Everybody had a piece of bread and some garlic and chorizo or ham to add. And apparently there is a version of migas in every region of Spain, which is not too frequent. They were eaten everywhere. And I warn you: this is not a diet dish. It has lots of olive oil and animal fats and I won't apologize for that... that's why it's so delicious. It was perfect for warming you up in the cold winter nights, up on a mountain hut.

It was my grandmother María who taught me to make migas. She was my paternal grandmother and she lived with my family till her death, some over 20 years ago. She was a very good cook, especially for pastry. She had been born in the Philippines while the country was a Spanish colony, her father being an army officer. She returned to Spain with her family when the Spaniards were expelled from the Philippines by the Americans (no hard feelings...) in 1898. Within a few years she unfortunately lost her parents and ended up in a religious boarding school for orphans in Aranjuez, where she stayed until she was 18. In the photo she's the blonde girl in the foreground, tightly holding the doll... wasn't she cute? I wonder where she learned to make migas, I never asked her...

As far as I know there are two main types of migas: diced and pulled. My grandmother used to make the diced type. According to the traditional standards, the dices must be chickpea-sized. The best bread for migas is the Spanish peasant bread, with a very dense crumb. The very open crumb of baguettes or ciabattas is not good for migas. And normally stale bread a day or two old is used. Remember migas is a poor man's dish... this makes it just perfect for the current crisis. I don't measure anything when I make them, but I'll try to figure the amounts:

My grandmother's migas

  • 1 hunk of dense crumb bread
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sweet Spanish pimentón (essential!)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 chorizos for frying (not very dry, not all chorizos are good for frying)
  • 2 tbsp diced Spanish jamón
  • 1 handful bacon rashers
  • Virgin olive oil for frying (essential!)

Well then, are you ready to start? Pick a nice hunk of stale bread and dice it carefully. I never get to make the dices as small as a chickpea... I'm not a skilled miguera, but I manage. Put the diced bread in a large bowl. Then sprinkle the bread with water, enough to slightly moisten it. The purpose of this is to soften the bread, remember migas are supposed to be made with sometimes very dry bread. Sprinkle the salt and turn them around to evenly distribute the salt. Do the same with the pimentón. Then cover with a damp cloth and leave to rest overnight.

By the way, I remember one family meal, with all my in-law family as guests, when I cooked migas for first course and a goulash-like stew for second course. I mistook the hot paprika for the sweet... on both courses... That day I had the evidence of how very well-mannered they all are... they still talk to me.

To prepare the migas the next day, pour 6-8 tablespoons of olive oil in a deep frying pan and put it on medium heat. Cut the garlic cloves in half, there's no need to peel them. Fry the garlic until lightly browned, then discard. The purpose is to flavor the oil. Then add the crumbled chorizo, the ham and the bacon. Stir-fry till they're almost done, the oil will be nicely colored, then tip the bread on the pan. Toss and turn around for the bread to thoroughly soak the oil. They will start to turn nicely red because of the paprika and chorizo drippings... Go on tossing for 3-4 minutes, depending on the heat. The migas should be lightly toasted and crisp on the outside, while they should remain soft in the inside... yes, that's the key to making good migas, my little children...

Serve the migas on a beautiful earthenware dish, while warm, and distribute them with a large wooden spoon... this is just for the sake of authenticity. You can add some grapes to the migas too, although I don't remember my grandmother doing it. This was very typical in the wine growing regions, but then they are called migas de vendimia or grape harvest migas. I love the contrast between the roughness of the migas and the sweetness of the grapes. Some other day I've got to try to add some pomegranate... it must be an interesting addition. And also you can serve the migas in small bowls or portions for a very tasty tapa... yum!

30 comentarios:

Simones Kitchen November 15, 2009 at 11:50 PM  

Well, I've already said it at Mel's site, but this does look delicious and wonderful way to use up old bread too... :)

penny aka jeroxie November 16, 2009 at 12:27 PM  

I am in love already! So simple but I am sure it tastes like heaven!

Jessie November 16, 2009 at 2:47 PM  

that looks like pure comfort food, I love it!

Tasty Trix November 16, 2009 at 3:08 PM  

Great post! Love the family photo. Did you make that loaf of bread? It's incredible looking.

Tasty Eats At Home November 16, 2009 at 3:10 PM  

Looks delicious! I'm used to the Mexican-style migas, with corn tortillas. So it's always a wonderful chance for me to learn a Spanish dish - these migas are wonderful-looking!.

Diana Bauman November 16, 2009 at 3:29 PM  

Miriam, These migas look great! And that bread, wow!! I so dearly want to be in Spain every time I visit your blog. Beautiful!!

singerinkitchen November 16, 2009 at 3:59 PM  

Que rico! I obviously was not aware that there was a Spanish version of migas. I have only known of the migas with corn tortillas too! Lovely pictures!~

Unknown November 16, 2009 at 9:27 PM  

It kind of sounds like stuffing - which I love! And with chorizo... how could anyone resist? It looks delicious!

French Cooking for Dummies November 16, 2009 at 9:41 PM  

Thank you so much for sharing your Grandma's migas recipe with us! I'll try it as soon as possible with a "huevo frito" :-) Yummmm....

Miriam November 16, 2009 at 9:57 PM  

Simone: yes, stale bread is the thing for it!
Penny: it's wonderful accompanied by a fried egg!
Jessie: it is!
Trix: no, I'm not such a good breadmaker (yet)...
Tasty: and you see, I don't know the Mexican migas, so I should solve this problem immediately! ;-)
Diana: thanks!
Noelle: getting rid of stale bread is a common problem everywhere, isn't it? ;-)
ValleyWriter: it admits a lot more accompaniments, like fried green peppers, and if you make them without pimenton they can be eaten with hot chocolate as merienda!

Anonymous November 16, 2009 at 11:17 PM  

Lovely post. I love migas. YUM.

Tania November 16, 2009 at 11:17 PM  

I love this post and the recipe!

we are never full November 16, 2009 at 11:33 PM  

droool. just watched jose andres make migas on tv this w/e and wanted some right then and there! this looks fabulous.

Anonymous November 16, 2009 at 11:40 PM  

Migas is new to me but lots of olive oil and animal fat have me running to the kitchen to make this. Thankyou for sharing your grandmother's recipe with us. Wonderful!

Drick November 17, 2009 at 2:06 AM  

love the photos and history of the food...very nice and something this peasant would love to eat...thanks

Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 8:18 PM  

So delicious! On my way to check out the recipe!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) November 17, 2009 at 11:52 PM  

I love hearing about family traditions and dishesI think I would love it with the grapes also.

My Little Space November 18, 2009 at 8:05 AM  

I love looking at this kind of picture. It brings back all those sweet memories of our elderly. And your granny dd make great migas. Cheers.

MC November 18, 2009 at 1:11 PM  

What a lovely, lovely post and what a wonderful comfort dish!
In southwestern France we have "la mique", which is a mixture of bread crumbs, garlic, Bayonne ham, sausage, veal, liver paté, nutmeg, thyme and parsley bound together with an egg and some milk and either cooked inside a boiled chicken or put in a cheesecloth and hung from the pot handle to cook in broth with boiled meat. It is not for the faint of heart either! But I love it. I bet I would love the miga as well...

Anonymous November 18, 2009 at 2:22 PM  

What a lovely story! Made such enjoyable reading!!! Loved it and the migas, bring on the calories! Truly delicious flavours!

Patty November 18, 2009 at 2:52 PM  

Thank you for sharing such a heart-warming story AND recipe! Isn't it amazing how 'peasant food' seems to be the most comforting food at times? That is the kind of food we enjoy eating, whether at a restaurant or at home. The photo of your grandmother is incredible - it is wonderful that you have such a photo....

Ingrid November 18, 2009 at 4:32 PM  

Thanks for sharing this recipe. My "media naranja" is Spanish and, ever since my mother in law passed away six years ago, has been longing for real migas (impossible to find in Belgium - even in our regular Spanish restaurant with comida casera). Thanks to your post, I know now the perfect surprise dinner for this weekend. Muchas gracias.

Miriam November 18, 2009 at 5:47 PM  

Pink: thanks!
Tania: thank you!
Amy and Jonny: just make them!
Danielle: thanks!
Drick: thank you!
5 Star Foodie: hope you like it!
Val: thanks!
My Little Space: yes, the picture is sooo great
MC: Every culture has some stale bread to get rid of, right? ;-)
Ruth: thanks!
Patty: yes, indeed the most simple food is the best
Ceinwyn: I'm so glad that my migas can help you to pamper your husband! ;-) Just make sure you find a reasonable chorizo and dense crumb bread.

Anonymous November 19, 2009 at 2:13 AM  

bread and chorizo = heaven!

KMS November 19, 2009 at 2:23 PM  

thank you for sharing such a wonderful post. i love spanish food and can't wait to try your grandmother's migas.

Alina November 20, 2009 at 11:26 PM  

Miriam, thanks for the lovely story of your Grandmother, she does look pretty in that old picture!
I'll try to make migas for my boyfriend sometime, as he loves everything with toasted bread, and I can't make French toasts forever, you know! :) do you think there might be a vegetarian version of migas as well (for me)?..

Sophie Sportende Foodie November 22, 2009 at 11:50 AM  

What a grand story I also love Pimentón de la Vera!

A really lovely meal!!


Karine November 22, 2009 at 1:37 PM  

Your dish sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing :)

Miriam November 27, 2009 at 10:11 AM  

Blissfulbites: thanks!
KMS: good luck!
Alina: of course you can make a vegetarian version, just substitute green and red pepper slivers, fried in the same oil with the garlic, for the chorizo and ham... it's also delicious!
Sophie: thanks!
Karine: thanks for visiting!

art and lemons March 21, 2010 at 12:33 PM  

Thanks for sharing your Grandmother's migas, I always use crumbled corn chips when I make it.


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