Saturday, January 11, 2014


Migas made with semolina.
Migas for breakfast. Or lunch or supper. It’s Number 28 on The Saveur 100 list of top food items in the past year (a list that had shockingly few Spanish entries).

Migas, means “crumbs,” as in bread crumbs. It’s one of those rustic peasant dishes in Spain that is so delicious that you don’t have to be a peasant to love it. Migas is especially good when made outdoors on a woodfire. Cooked in a deep skillet, it feeds a hungry crowd—grapepickers at the vendimia or, this time of year, sausage-makers at a matanza, hog butchering. Everybody gathers round and eats straight from the pan.

Migas garnished with fried egg, pepper, chorizo and raisins.

Migas allows just about any garnish or embellishment you might dream up. Fried chorizo sausage, pork loin, fried green peppers, fried egg, canned or fried sardines, olives. Migas de matanza—served at a pig slaughtering—would include chopped pig’s liver along with scraps of pork belly. In the late summer, sweet grapes or pieces of melon accompany migas; in winter, raisins add the sweetness that contrasts so nicely with the slightly salty, fatty migas.

Usually migas is made with stale bread, broken into bits, dampened with water, then fried with olive oil and ham fat. (Mexican migas is made with broken bits of corn tortillas.) This version is different—made with wheat semolina that cooks up somewhat like cous cous or grits. Like grits, migas is equally good with eggs for breakfast or as a side with meat and gravy for dinner.

Bacon bits and fried chorizo garnish the migas.

Migas a la Casera
Home-Style Crumbs

Serves 4 to 6.

Durum wheat semolina.
2-3 ounces bacon, pancetta, salt pork or fatty ham
5 cloves garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ teaspoon pimentón (paprika), preferably smoked
1 ¾ cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups durum wheat semolina
Sliced chorizo, fried (optional)
Raisins or grapes (optional)
Fried green peppers (optional)
Fried eggs (optional)
Fried sardines (optional)

Cut the bacon into dice and fry it in a skillet until crisped and brown. Skim it out and reserve.

Use the side of a knife to lightly crush the unpeeled garlic. Add the oil to the skillet with remaining bacon fat. Add the whole garlic. When they begin to brown, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pimentón. Very carefully add the water and salt.

Return the skillet to the heat and bring the water to a boil. Use a wooden spoon or fork to stir in the semolina. Cook on a low heat, stirring frequently, until the semolina absorbs all the water and oil and becomes soft and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Fork it through to break up any lumps and separate the grains.

Serve the migas topped with the reserved fried bacon. Garnish as desired with fried chorizo, raisins or grapes, fried peppers, eggs or sardines.

Migas with breadcrumbs

Migas a la Cortijera
Farm-Style Fried Bread Crumbs

Use dense, fine-textured country bread, two-days old. If this is not available, use a compact loaf of Italian-style bread, without texturizers or preservatives. How much bread you need depends on the shape of the loaf, so the measurements are given by weight.

Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main breakfast dish.

8 ounces stale bread (6-8 slices)
½ cup water
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, quartered lengthwise
3 thick slices bacon (3 ounces), cut crosswise in strips
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pimentón (paprika)
Pinch of ground cumin
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of ground pepper
Grapes or raisins
Fried eggs
Fried pork loin
Fresh goat’s milk
Pomegranate seeds
Thick hot chocolate sauce

Cut the bread into ½ -inch dice. You should have about 5 cups of diced bread.  Place the bread in a bowl and sprinkle with ½ cup of water. Toss the bread bits until they are dampened, but not soaked. Place them on a dampened kitchen towel and wrap them tightly. Leave to stand overnight (or at least 6 hours).

Heat the oil in a deep skillet or earthenware cazuela. Fry the pieces of garlic and strips of bacon until lightly browned, then skim them out and reserve.

Add the bread bits to the fat. Fry the crumbs on a medium heat, turning them constantly with a spatula. At first they tend to stick to the skillet. Keep stirring until they are loose and lightly toasted, about 20 minutes. Keep cutting the bread with the edge of the spatula to gradually reduce the dice into crumbs.

Stir in the salt, paprika, cumin, cloves and pepper. Return the fried garlic and bacon to the pan and give everything another few turns. The bread crumbs should be slightly crunchy, not crisp.

Choose any two of the accompaniments to serve with the migas.


  1. I want to live at your table, I will work for food!

    Thank you for each and everyone of these recipes! One day along the Cameno de Santiago I stayed at a farm house and migas was on the menu that night.......

    it was heaven!


    1. Scott: Glad you enjoyed that recipe. I bet migas was really satisfying after a day on the Camino de Santiago.