appetite of a sparrow? eat crumbs!

migas - fried breadcrumbs
with chorizo
I often tell people that I have the appetite of a sparrow, not so much little, but definitely often. "How," people ask me incredulously as they admire my well-upholstered figure "do you maintain your exquisite physique?" "Crumbs," I say modestly.

Ok, a girl can dream. Sadly I am more a comfy country cottage sofa type than Swedish minimalism. But I do like crumbs, really. Stale bread is one of the wonders of the kitchen, and a fabulous weapon in the thrifty cook's arsenal.

The Spanish and Portuguese dish, migas, is essentially a dish of stale bread fried in delicious spiced oil, often with chorizo and bacon. It was usually eaten at breakfast, although like many popular homely dishes, it is now being served in smart restaurants at all hours of the day. There are regional variations but since I always have some chorizo in the fridge, this is the version I usually cook.

You will need to start preparing this the day before (or at least a few hours) and you will need a good quality bread - so none of that white supermarket sponge - a sourdough or ciabatta do work very well.

I have adapted this from The Foods and Wines of Spain, by Penelope Casas.

Serves 4 (as a side dish)
Skill level: Easy

½ x loaf of stale rustic-style bread
2 x rashers of thick-cut bacon
75g semi-dried chorizo, skinned and roughly chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
1 x onion, finely chopped
2 x garlic cloves
¼ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp smoked paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Spanish-style fried egg, to serve (see tip)
fresh parsley, chopped, to serve

  1. Remove the crusts from the bread and roughly chop or tear the bread into bite-sized pieces ;( about the size of a generous crouton). Place in a bowl.
  2. You will need to dampen the bread. The best way to do this is to wet your hands under the tap and shake over the bread. Shake the bowl to rearrange the bread, and then dampen again. Repeat. Cover the bowl with a clean tea-towel and leave overnight, or for at least a few hours. The stale bread needs to absorb some of the water.
  3. Cut the fatty part of the rind from the bacon rashers, Finely chop and fry in a pre-heated frying pan and gently fry until the fat starts to render down. Drain off some of the fat and reserve it. (You will need this fat later!)
  4. Finely chop the bacon and add to the rind in the frying pan. Continue to cook on a gentle heat to cook through and release more of the fat. Remove the bacon and set aside.
  5. Add the chopped chorizo to the pan and continue to gently fry. The meat should start releasing its fat and spices into the cooking fat, turning it a beautiful rusty red colour!
  6. Remove the chorizo and put with the cooked bacon.
  7. Pour the fat out into the container with the bacon fat.
  8. Return the pan to the heat and gently warm the frying pan. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat gently. Add one whole garlic clove and gently cook until the garlic clove is a golden brown. Remove the garlic from the oil. (Personally this is one of my "cook's treats" - I love the taste of soft, sweet roasted garlic!)
  9. Add the bacon and chorizo fat to the pan, together with the cumin, paprika and a little salt and pepper. Stir to combine, then add the bread and stir to ensure that the bread is well-coated with the flavoured oil. Cook on a very low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.
  10. In another frying pan, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the finely chopped onion and fry for 5 minutes.
  11. Finely chop the remaining garlic clove and add to the onion. Stir to combine and cook gently for another 5 minutes, or until the onion has softened.
  12. Add the bacon and chorizo, stir well to combine. Cook for 1 minute.
  13. Add this mixture to the fried bread and stir well to combine.
  14. I prefer my bread slightly crisp, but if you prefer a softer version, then sprinkle over a little water or olive oil.
  15. Serve with a fried egg and chopped parsley.

If you want a more authentic Spanish flavour, fry your egg in the Spanish manner.
  1. Heat enough olive oil in a frying pan so that it is about 1 centimetre deep. It needs to be almost at smoking point. Be careful as it will be very hot and you are about to add the eggs!
  2. Add no more than 2 eggs at a time. As they cook, fold the edges of the egg whites over the yolk, creating a small package. Spoon over hot oil until the yolks are cooked and the whites are slightly crunchy. It will only take about 1 minute. Remove from the pan and place on a paper towel to drain.
  3. Drain the pan of all but 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and add finely sliced strips of red pepper or pimientos to the oil and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly softened. Remove from the pan, and place around the cooked eggs.
  4. Add 2 cloves of finely sliced garlic to the pan and gently heat through until the garlic turns a golden brown. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in 1 teaspoon of sherry or wine vinegar and half a teaspoon of smoked paprika. Return to the heat and cook for 2 minutes, adding a little water if the garlicky sauce is drying out.
  6. Add a little salt to the fried eggs and peppers. Pour over the garlic sauce and serve with the fried bread.


o cozinheiro este algarve said...

ooohhh crumbs this one is waiting in the wings,i´ve drafted it but am not quite ready to post.Anyway great minds think alike so they say.

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

One of my favourite things - stale bread! Have been trying out various savoury pudding recipes - often instead of stuffing at Sunday lunch. Unfortunately while they taste good they don't look so good (and my photography needs a lot of work!). Looking forward to what you come up with (no pressure then!)