Saturday, August 25, 2012

Migas Spanish-Style

This is yet another recipe to do with day-old bread. The first time I visited my boyfriend's family in Extremadura, Spain, I was introduced to the deliciousness of Migas. It is a traditional dish of that region, and also shows up in different variations all across Spain. I remember eating it for the first time at an awesome café in Badajoz called El Venero. Venero doesn't mean anything, but to everyone who has been there, it means incredible breakfasting! I promise you that you have never had real orange juice until you have had zumo de naranja in Spain....I don't care if you have seen a Florida orange squeezed to death into a glass, it just isn't the same. Sunshine in a glass. Also, instead of coffee many Spaniards indulge in a Cola Cao, or hot chocolate (best hot chocolate I've ever had come from a powder). The Handsome Spaniard makes a special rendition of Migas by dipping it in his Cola Cao--I could never get over the mixture of garlic and chocolate, but he swears by it. Yeah, we all have our own tastes I guess.

Anyways, the second time I had migas was homemade by his mother. It is a really difficult dish to master, and I'm well on my way, but I had some good instruction while I was there. I guess what makes it difficult is preparing the hard bread by sprinkling water on it and letting it sit overnight until you're ready to make it. You could probably let it sit for just a couple of hours and you would get a good result as well, however this is the technique I learned in good ol' Badajoz, so that's what I'm sticking with. I had the Handsome Spaniard give me a refresher course on preparation so that I didn't leave anything out. Sometimes when you learn recipes in another language, some important details are left out...haha, imagine that!

Migas are so fluffy and so wonderful as breakfast or an afternoon snack (Merienda). They are robust and filling even though they only have three ingredients. That is my favorite part of traditional Spanish food, they can pack so much flavor into very little complication, most of which has to do with the powerhouse that is their olive oil. So. Much. Flavor!!! I remember going to olive oil tastings and seriously just sipping the olive oil out of little cups like tasting fine wine. Honestly, they had more flavor and complexity than many wines I have tried--so gorgeous they don't even need to be bothered with the pieces of bread they have set out. I went to a similar olive oil tasting at the farmer's market today, and it just wasn't the same, so I went sulking away until I found a delicious booth with candy onions and beautiful zucchini five seconds later (it doesn't take much to cheer me up at a farmer's market!).

If you happen to have some staled bread, or bread you just need to get rid of, cube it up and dry it out first (in the oven if you're pressed on time). I actually used some of the bread from the french bread recipe that I made last week! Great choice. So pick your favorite bread, prepare it and then you can go to work on these Migas!

Traditional Migas (Extremadura-style)
Hard cubed bread 
(I'd say a loaf would make a good batch, more if you want it to last the week)
Olive oil
Salt (optional)
Garlic (3-4 cloves will do), smashed with skin-on or roughly sliced

The first thing you need to do is choose a pan to cook the migas in. It should be a deep pan with enough room to stir around the bread cubes without them flying out everywhere--I know, it gets a little exciting. Transfer all of your bread into a large bowl and set up a little rice bowl next to you filled with about a cup of water. Dip your hand in the bowl and then sprinkle water all over the bread, as evenly as possible. You should flip around the bread every so often to make sure that the bottom bread cubes are also getting their share. They definitely shouldn't be soaking wet and soggy, that's why you do the sprinkling action, but they should be notably moistened. When you have reached that point, cover them with plastic wrap or a lid and let them sit for 3-4 hours or overnight. I'm just guessing on the 3-4 hours, but I imagine that the bread would soak in all the moisture by then.
Now it is time for the fun! Turn on the heat to medium-high. Pick a really good olive oil, your favorite, and pour a few tablespoons in the pan--I just poured enough olive oil to make the shape of a normal-sized pancake and waited until the oil was hot enough to shimmer. Then, you distribute the bread evenly in the pan and keep them moving with a wooden spoon so they are all fairly covered in olive oil. Add the garlic and turn the heat down to medium-low. 

You should keep moving the bread and mashing it down with the spoon to make a "polvo" which means dust in English--so you want little crumbs out of your cubes. I like a mixture of cubes and polvo, but you can turn it all to dust if you feel like it. The crumbs and smaller pieces make the migas even more fluffy, so the more polvo, the fluffier it will be. You should keep stirring and mashing for about 20-30 minutes. It takes patience, but is totally worth it.

The end result should be golden Migas that are fluffy and full of deliciousness. Because it is just bread and garlic, you need to add some fruit, protein, or vegetables to balance the meal, or you can just eat them on your own if you are into that--like most people do with Rice Krispies. You can crumble up some bacon and throw it in there, have it as a side with eggs, eat it like you would oatmeal, and you can save it for the whole week (it won't last that long), just remember to put a lid on it. If you happen to have Cola Cao it makes a nice accompaniment, but hot chocolate of any sort, orange juice, coffee, and tea also work well. Start the day of Spanish-style!

¡Que aproveches!

1 comment:

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