Spain’s national dish is always said to be paella, but migas are also a favorite of Spaniards. This humblest of foods was invented by the shepherds who still roam the plains of Castile with their flocks, making good use of less-than-fresh bread for a rustic meal cooked over an open fire. Nowadays migas (“crumbs”) are a popular breakfast dish—try them as part of a hearty mid-morning brunch. You’ll need to sprinkle the bread with water and let it sit overnight, so prep this dish tonight and serve it for a leisurely brunch tomorrow. The bread used shouldn’t be fresh, but not quite hard either—somewhere in between.
1 lb. (500 g) day-old country bread, crusts removed
Fine sea salt
10 Tbs. (5 fl. oz./150 ml) olive oil
8 garlic cloves, unpeeled
7 oz. (220 g) pancetta or bacon, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) dice
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. pimentón (Spanish smoked pepper)
The day before serving, break the bread with your fingers into roughly shaped dice of 1/2 to 1 scant inch (12 mm to 2.5 cm) and spread on a tray. Sprinkle a little salted water over, cover with a kitchen towel and let stand overnight.
In a large, wide fry pan, heat 2 Tbs. of the oil over high heat. Add the unpeeled garlic cloves and the pancetta and fry until the pancetta is crisp and browned, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl. Add the bell pepper to the pan and fry until beginning to blister, about 2 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the garlic and pancetta.
Add 6 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./90 ml) olive oil to the pan. Have ready 1 cup (250 ml) water. When the oil is hot, add the bread pieces, tossing them quickly in the oil and using your fingers to sprinkle them with water from time to time. The aim is to ensure the migas achieve a uniform golden brown without burning or drying excessively. Finally, return the garlic, pancetta and bell pepper to the pan and season with 1/2 tsp. salt and the pimentón. Toss everything together until combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn out onto a serving platter.
In a small nonstick fry pan, heat the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat. Fry the eggs one by one until cooked to your liking. Serve the migas with the fried eggs on top. Serves 4.
Find more than 100 recipes for the simple, unassuming, and satisfying food of the Spanish countryside in Rustic Spanish by Paul Richardson.