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Migas: like eggs and toast only better.

November 22, 2010

Migas is another simple, yet memorable dish from my youth. Cousin to the chilaquiles and allegedly a relative (several times removed) from the couscous, it’s one that involves basic ingredients (in any Tex-Mex household) that most often than not, seem to always be in the fridge.

Growing up, my mother prepared this dish quite frequently, and I definitely was alright with that. She used, but of course, her trusty cast iron skillet, because not just any saute pan would do. Eggs and corn tortillas lay the foundation. Anything additional put in, we’d give thanks for. It’s a bit like a kitchen sink meal (not that I recommend you prepare it in the kitchen sink). You use what you have, and each time it comes out a bit different. Ingredients may vary, taste should still be paramount.

So sometimes she’d throw in slices of ham and chopped pieces of green bell pepper. Another variation might include a tangle of white onion, mushrooms and serrano pepper. And cheese to go on top. Melted cheddar cheese is a must when making migas. It is known that melted cheddar cheese is good on everything (so just add it). Pico de gallo or Salsa Roja would be a standard garnish for migas (unless of course you’ve added diced tomatoes to your base). Though the assimilated child that I had become chose to top her migas with ketchup over salsa. (Insert cultural assessment here). What can I say? I like ketchup. I certainly doubt I was the only kid to put ketchup on everything.

Migas, as a complete breakfast, would involve serving refried beans and fried potatoes alongside. More tortillas (flour) would act as utensils to scoop up the migas and beans together into one generous bite. Incidentally, if it sounds like a familiar way to eat, it’s because this eating process is also fluent in other cultures. Much in the same way North Africans use flat bread to scoop up their couscous and chicken, or in the manner Indians use naan bread to bundle their dal and lamb curry into one bite.

It makes me realize how truly similar we are as people (though separated by language, distance and ball sports). It perhaps validates our connection. It’s also no secret indigenous Mexico was pollinated by the Spanish (among others), which is why ingredients used in Mexican cooking are similar to those of North Africa and the Arab world. Hello, cilantro and cumin.

Just in case you were wondering.

Like the quesadilla, migas was an easy dish the budding ketchup-adoring cook in me could execute. Naturally, I’ve since become well versed in making this very rustic dish. I make it for breakfast and I’ve made it for lunch. I have even made it for dinner (when eggs, tortillas and lentils were all I had). You say eggs and toast. I say migas. It’s just better.

And would you believe I made it recently with diced pieces of hot dog? Wow, I just admitted that. Yes, I bought hot dogs for the World Series game. They were not cooked because I opted to prepare sliders instead. So I still had a package of Ball Park beef franks, and, well, in the spirit of using what you have, I turned hot dogs into migas. And feeling just a bit wild, I also went cheese-less. So daring..

Migas with pico de gallo

Corn tortillas (about 2 or 3) are torn into strips and tossed into a hot pan that has been touched by the hand of oil. Crack 3 eggs into a bowl. Whisk together and set aside.

If using chopped tomato, serrano, onion, bell pepper, or mushroom, this is the time to put them into the skillet. Add your slices of ham, turkey or hot dog (gasp) also.

Sautee together until the vegetables are cooked and tortillas are getting crispy. Depending how high your heat is, this should be just a few minutes.

Add the whisked eggs to the skillet. Savor the smell and sound of the bubbling eggs, and begin to scramble the eggs with the tortillas and veggies. When the eggs are cooked to your liking, top the migas with shredded cheddar cheese and let it melt together into one eggy mess of goodness.

Plate and serve with your favorite pico de gallo, salsa or large bottle of ketchup.


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