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What are migas?

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Migas with Fried Peppers, Garlic and Sausage

Migas with Fried Peppers, Garlic and Sausage

(c) Lisa Sierra 2011 Licensed to About.com Inc.
Question: What are migas?
Answer:

"Migas," also called "migas al pastor" is an very old and very traditional Spanish dish, created to make use of stale bread, and was typically eaten by shepherds. It's easy to see why if you imagine spending days in the hills protecting your flock, far from the nearest bread oven, and limited to what you could carry with you. Then, you'll understand how thin slices of stale bread, flavored with garlic, and olive oil or lard, and cooked over a campfire could end up as a shepherd's staple. On good days, the migas might even include chorizo sausage, ham or salt pork.

What started out as a shepherd's meal wound up as a practical way that for centuries Spanish families could make use of their stale bread. Today, the rising standard of living in Spain has diminished the necessity to use every scrap, so in many families migas are fondly remembered as a dish prepared by grandmas or great-grandmas. However, they are still prepared on special occasions and appear on the menus at neighborhood bars in several regions.

The word migas, which literally means "bread crumbs" is typical of central and southeast Spain, in the provinces of La Mancha, Murcia, Andalucía, Extremadura y Aragón. The basic migas recipe consists of moistening slices of stale bread, then sautéing them with cloves of garlic and olive oil until they turn golden brown and the consistency is crumbly and a bit "fluffy." As is often the case with traditional dishes, there are many variations of migas, as well as is served with them - from sweet to salty. In some regions, Spanish paprika is added to the migas, giving them a distinctive orange color and smoky flavor. In several regions the accompanying food is added directly to the migas and mixed in, while in other regions it is served on the side.

Regional Variations

Below are some examples of the different varieties of migas found in the central and southern regions of Spain:

  • La Mancha is home to migas made of stale bread that is soaked in water, drained, then cooked on low heat with garlic and pieces of pork. They are commonly eaten with grapes or melon.
  • In Murcia, the migas are often made with flour rather than stale bread. Bacon, sausage like a longaniza and rehydrated dried peppers called ñoras. They even have a special name, gachasmigas.
  • In Aragon they are prepared with Spanish chorizo sausage, onion, garlic and olive oil, and are eaten with grapes.
  • Along the eastern edge of Spain, in the hot, dry province of Almeria, they are made with semolina and eaten with sardines, bacalao, fried peppers, dried or fresh tomatoes or fried eggplant.

Side Dishes Served with Migas

Below are two short lists of foods that are typically served with migas.

Salty Migas Variations

  • Pork Loin (fried)
  • Bacon or Salt Pork
  • Fried Roasted Green or Red Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Olives
  • Fried Cod
  • Chorizo Sausage
  • Morcilla
  • Onions
  • Sardines

Sweet Migas Variations

  • Grapes
  • Melon
  • Figs
  • Chocolate
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