Grandmother’s Migas Recipe – Spanish Shepherd’s Fare

Posted by on Nov 15, 2009

I’m in Barcelona, likely nibbling on Pintxos and sipping de vinos. I’m eagerly awaiting my dining reservations at Alkimia tomorrow. The photo gallery alone makes me shiver with anticipation!


Miriam of The Winter Guest is from Galapagar, near Madrid. She kindly accepted my invitation to share a Spanish recipe that she holds close to heart and boy did she ever deliver! I particularly love how she draws inspiration for this vibrant bread dish from her Grandmother to warm our hearts. Muchas gracias!


Guest Post written by Miriam

I had been feeling like making migas for some weeks already, so I was very happy when charming Mel 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.

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/ Paprika (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!)

Directions

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…

Present the migas on a beautiful earthenware dish, while warm, and serve 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!


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  • http://junglefrog-cooking.com Simone (junglefrog)

    I love good ways to use up old bread and this looks delicious!

  • http://www.peaceandloveinthekitchen.blogspot.com Waverly

    We eat migas often here in Texas, but, of course, they are eggs with jalapenos and tomatoes wrapped in tortillas. Your Spanish migas with chorizo, ham, bacon, and bread really grabbed my attention. It looks wonderful. I look forward to trying it.
    Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  • http://myfabulousrecipes.blogspot.com Sook

    Wow, what a great post!!! Very interesting!

  • http://invitadoinviernoeng.blogspot.com/ Miriam/The winter guest

    Mel, I’m glad your having a good time! Thanks for the chance to this guest post! I enjoyed it a lot.

  • http://theitaliandishblog.com The Italian Dish

    Wow, very interesting. I love traditional dishes like this and I love these flavors. I’ve never made this before, but I’m going to give it a try.

  • http://recipespicbypic.blogspot.com Núria

    So, you finally made it to Barcelona! Isn’t the weather amazing? Alkimia is a fantastic restaurant. I was there some years ago and loved it… I bet they have improved since then :D. Sagrada Familia is so near, I’m sure you will soon have some photos posted ;D.

    I’m preparing my post for wednesday… I’ll be finally calling it the Cod Connection :D

    Hope you have a great great time in Barcelona dear!

  • http://frenchcookingfordummies.com French Cooking for Dummies

    What a great post! I’m going to check Miriam’s blog right now :-D

  • http://joylicious.net joy

    This is so interesting, thank you for sharing your story about your grandmother :) In texas our migas is eggs and tortilla chips so it is interesting to see that you’ve made it using bread and a combination of glorious meats nom nom nom — this recipe looks scrumptious! Thank you for taking us on your tour of Europe :)

  • http://simplyscrumptiousfoodie.com Jessica

    wow that is a gorgeous and delicious looking dish! I just love the story about your grandmother.

    Mel- I’m so jealous that you’re nibbling your way through Barcelona! I can’t wait to read all about it!

  • http://theessenceofwomanhood.blogspot.com/ redkathy

    Family nostalgia and recipes are the best combination. The migas look wonderful and provide a great option for that day old bread.

  • http://wasabiprime.blogspot.com wasabi prime

    Beautiful recipe full of family memories — the best kind of food is full of love like this!

  • Pingback: Migas | Spainglish()

  • http://www.keefcooks.com keefcooks

    Migas I’ve had in Madrid is more crumby than cubey, and sometimes cone with a fried egg on top.