My Grandmother's Migas
Category: Side Dishes | Blog URL: http://invitadoinviernoeng.blogspot.com/2009/11/my-grandmothers-migas.html
This recipe was entered in The Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook contest, a compilation of the world’s best food blogs which was published in Fall 2010.
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. I wonder where she learnt 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!)
Pick a nice hunk of stale bread and dice it carefully. I never get to make the dices as small as a chickpea... 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.
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. And also you can serve the migas in small bowls or portions for a very tasty tapa... yum!