Like most bakers, I typically have a hunk (or three) of stale bread lying around my kitchen. As such, I am well acquainted with the satisfaction that comes from breathing new life into a hardened loaf. A prime example is the outstanding Spanish dish known as migas (“migas” means “crumbs”). It involves moistening crumbs (and larger pieces of bread) with water and then frying them in fat along with lots of garlic, chorizo, and smoked paprika. Some of the water evaporates as the bread sizzles, but much of it is pushed into the bread starch, creating crisp and chewy morsels imbued with the flavors of garlic and pork. It’s great stuff.
Some cooks include a second pork product such as pork belly, bacon, or Spanish ham for depth (and more fat); others fold in produce like peppers, hearty greens, mushrooms, or even grapes. The mix-ins are cut into bite-size pieces and tossed with the bread to create a hearty hash that can be served as tapas or topped with eggs for breakfast, brunch, or dinner.
Making great migas is primarily about getting the bread right: The proper texture, which I fondly refer to as “crunchewy,” is best accomplished by starting with a rustic, crusty loaf; removing the thick bottom crust; and soaking it in water. I came up with a method that works with bread of any degree of freshness: Begin with 1⁄3 cup of water for 5 cups of cubed bread, and then gently knead until the pieces break down. If the bread resists falling apart, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until it yields.
With the bread ready, I fried slices of soft Spanish-style chorizo in olive oil (harder, more aged sausage dried out too quickly during frying) with smashed whole garlic cloves. I included thick-cut bacon to provide a layer of smokiness as well as extra fat for frying the bread, which I did after removing the meat and garlic from the pan with a slotted spoon. Once the pieces were golden and crisp on the outside, I sautéed red bell and Cubanelle peppers. The former offered sweetness, and the latter provided a slight bitter counterpoint. Once I returned the meat to the pan, I drizzled on sherry vinegar to help balance the richness and added a colorful shower of minced parsley.
Finally, I topped the migas with fried eggs cooked sunny-side up so that the softly set yolks would spill onto the porky, garlicky bread. Not a bad way to use up a leftover loaf.