How to Make Spanish Migas

This hearty one-dish meal takes leftover bread from stale to sublime.

Published June 1, 2020.

My Goals and Discoveries

Crisp, chewy bread pieces

For bread that will fry up crisp on the outside and chewy within, knead a fixed amount of water into fresh or stale bread pieces, and then add more water as needed.

Proper crust-to-crumb ratio

Use a rustic loaf and remove the bottom crust so that the bread won’t be too tough.

Rich pork flavor

Use a combination of paprika-laced chorizo and smoky bacon to develop complex flavor and to render enough fat for frying the bread.

Sunny-side up eggs

Cover the skillet while frying the eggs to gently steam the loose whites and keep the yolks from overcooking.

Like most bakers, I typically have a hunk (or three) of stale bread lying around my kitchen. As such, I am well acquainted with the satisfaction that comes from breathing new life into a hardened loaf. A prime example is the outstanding Spanish dish known as migas (“migas” means “crumbs”). It involves moistening crumbs (and larger pieces of bread) with water and then frying them in fat along with lots of garlic, chorizo, and smoked paprika. Some of the water evaporates as the bread sizzles, but much of it is pushed into the bread starch, creating crisp and chewy morsels imbued with the flavors of garlic and pork. It’s great stuff.

Some cooks include a second pork product such as pork belly, bacon, or Spanish ham for depth (and more fat); others fold in produce like peppers, hearty greens, mushrooms, or even grapes. The mix-ins are cut into bite-size pieces and tossed with the bread to create a hearty hash that can be served as tapas or topped with eggs for breakfast, brunch, or dinner.

Red and green bell peppers are sautéed before being combined with toasted bread cubes, chorizo, and spices for a batch of migas.

Making great migas is primarily about getting the bread right: The proper texture, which I fondly refer to as “crunchewy,” is best accomplished by starting with a rustic, crusty loaf; removing the thick bottom crust; and soaking it in water. I came up with a method that works with bread of any degree of freshness: Begin with 1⁄3 cup of water for 5 cups of cubed bread, and then gently knead until the pieces break down. If the bread resists falling apart, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until it yields.

Getting to “Crunchewy”

Properly hydrating the bread (either fresh or stale loaves) for migas ensures the proper crunchy-chewy texture once it is fried. Add 1/3 cup of water to 5 cups of bread cubes, and then knead in more as needed until you have a mix of bigger and smaller pieces interspersed with a few crumbs.

With the bread ready, I fried slices of soft Spanish-style chorizo in olive oil (harder, more aged sausage dried out too quickly during frying) with smashed whole garlic cloves. I included thick-cut bacon to provide a layer of smokiness as well as extra fat for frying the bread, which I did after removing the meat and garlic from the pan with a slotted spoon. Once the pieces were golden and crisp on the outside, I sautéed red bell and Cubanelle peppers. The former offered sweetness, and the latter provided a slight bitter counterpoint. Once I returned the meat to the pan, I drizzled on sherry vinegar to help balance the richness and added a colorful shower of minced parsley.

Finally, I topped the migas with fried eggs cooked sunny-side up so that the softly set yolks would spill onto the porky, garlicky bread. Not a bad way to use up a leftover loaf.

Spanish Migas with Fried Eggs

This hearty one-dish meal takes leftover bread from stale to sublime.
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