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I'm happiest when the food I make becomes a backdrop to a lively conversation. When I'm not cooking, I'm traveling or dreaming about travel. Come sit with me, and enjoy! Read more here.

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« quickie crepes suzette: an accessible weekend treat | Main | beef bourguignon: a nod to france's beloved 'boeuf' »

migas: a stand-out dish inspired by batali's so-so book 'spain'

When I buy a cookbook, it’s a serious matter. Cookbooks are expensive. I want to cook from them for life. Otherwise, why pay the $20 to $30 bucks?

My favorite cookbooks sport grease stains, dog-eared folds, and scribbles along the margins. They make me dream. They transport me to places I’ve never been through intriguing recipes and good writing. They can even sit in for good novel.

So when I mail-order a cookbook that bores me or offers few recipes I would actually cook, I kick myself. This was the case with Mario Batali’s “Spain: A Culinary Road Trip,” which I bought in anticipation of my summer trip to Barcelona.

Every time I see the book on my shelf, I feel like a sucker -- a sucker for Mario’s orange Crocs, for co-author Gwenyth Paltrow’s quiet beauty and Hollywood mystique, and for believing the two of them together could inspire me to cook.

The part-travel, part-cookbook and companion to the PBS television series, weaves location shots with Mario’s blow-by-blow of whom they met and where they went, recorded dialogue dryly rendered in text boxes, and recipes that, for one reason or another, fail to compel me to pick up my trusty Henckels and start chopping.

As a traveler, I enjoyed the photographs of the various regions of Spain and I found a few recipes that piqued my interest, but there was only one recipe that inspired me to cook and that was for migas.

The book offered little information about the stir-fried bread dish but Wikipedia explained that migas, literally translated as “crumbs,” was originally eaten as a breakfast made with leftover bread or tortillas.

Both sweet and salty, this easy-to-prepare classic peasant dish packs a ton of flavor. Many traditional recipes, including Mario’s, suggest cooking it with fresh grapes. I prefer dried currants, which offer a more subtle counterpoint to the salty, fatty chorizo. I've also changed the porportions and omitted the pancetta, which I didn't have on hand and upped the amount of chorizo instead.

I’m still unsure if the recipe was worth the book’s $34.95 cover price (ouch!) but this is one dish I’ll enjoy for a long time to come.

Here’s my version, inspired by Batali's so-so “Spain.”


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup roasted red bell pepper from a jar, drained and cut into strips
4 garlic cloves, not peeled
5 ounces of chorizo, casings removed, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
3-1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 cup currants
1 egg per person, fried so that the whites are cooked but the yolk is still moist, to top each plate

Put the breadcrumbs in a bowl and sprinkle with just enough water to moisten. Mario suggests covering them with a damp paper towel and setting aside for two hours. I skip this step. The important thing is that the bread be evenly moistened. A spray bottle would work well.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and stir until lightly browned. Add the chorizo and cook until the fat is rendered, about 8 minutes. Add the bread crumbs and mix thoroughly with the garlic and chorizo and cook, stirring frequently, until the crumbs are lightly browned. Add the currants and roasted red peppers.

Meanwhile, fry the eggs. Spoon the migas mixture onto each plate and top each plate with an egg.


Reader Comments (26)

This looks delicious. I'm in love with sweet and salty, so this would do it for me. Where do you buy your chorizo? I'm always looking for tasty versions. I'm also intrigued by leaving the garlic in the peel. Can it add flavor this way? Do you still eat it unpeeled? Does it roast? It doesn't seem like it would.

This is a great post, by the way. Rarely do I find food blogs that raise so many interesting cooking questions - that are both interesting and inspiring.


December 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermary

Mary -- Thanks for your questions and your comment! The unpeeled garlic cloves flavor the olive oil nicely. I like to leave them in the migas when I serve because they add a rustic element to the dish but you'll want to peel them at the table before eating. I buy chorizo at Whole Foods. They sell it in packages in one long link. You can also special order it online from La Tienda. Cheers!

December 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

I couldn't even watch the Batali Gwyeth show traveling around Spain!
I do love Mario's NYC restaurants, and I love his ITALY cookbook, it's one of my favorites.
I know what you mean about buying a cookbook and not loving it....I do it too often.

I seem to find better recipes on food blogs and cooking magazines lately.
I made your tortilla espagnola with chorizo....it was EXCELLENT! Will be posting it this week!

December 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterstacey snacks

Thanks, Stacey! I'm glad you liked the chorizo tortilla -- I can't wait to see your post! I'm with you on the PBS 'Spain' series. The show was a dud. I didn't make it to the end of the first episode; it lacked energy and pace. The book reflects that too. I love Mario's 'Molto Italiano' book and think highly of his work in general. Batali and Paltrow together on the road had so much potential to be interesting. It's sad for them that 'Spain' flopped; I like them both!

December 6, 2009 | Registered CommenterAngela

I am not sure if I like him, but people seem to love him. However, looking at your photo, it makes me hungry.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterelra

Way to do more with less, Angela! I really love that you always add your own personal twist to these recipes. I can't wait to try the migas myself!

Thanks for keeping us inspired.


December 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCyana

Elra: I love to eat migas when I'm craving comfort food and carbs. It's the BEST.

Cyana: Thanks, sweetie! I would love to make this for you sometime. You and Mike just say the word.

December 13, 2009 | Registered CommenterAngela

I love migas, it has become a standard in our house, whenever we have a loaf that is a few days old we have some sort of migas for lunch. Sorry about the cookbook, Fishsticks Paltrow's involvement should have been a warning I guess! :) Lovely blog you have here, really enjoying it.

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBordeaux

I own quite a few of these cookbooks (including one by Batali) that I love to read and almost never make any recipes from but I do get inspired to create my own versions of the dishes. Your migas look wonderful, I've would love to try some!

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNatasha - 5 Star Foodie

Looks delicious....with egg on top! Happy new year!

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErica

Thanks, Erica! Happy new year to you!

January 1, 2010 | Registered CommenterAngela

They look so pretty and easy! I made them recently but they spread a little bit and did´t keep the shape. Do you know what could go wrong?

January 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterchai tee

Hi Chai Tee -- Don't worry about keeping to any shape. It's supposed to be scattered looking. Enjoy!

January 7, 2010 | Registered CommenterAngela

this looks delish and different. i agree, that i like gertting my books worth! on that note, i am giving away a cookbook on my blog, so u should enter!:)


January 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter++MIRA++

Awesome recipe- so hearty and complex. Chorizo makes me hungry every time I think about it. It is too bad Batali's book was a let down, because I think he is an excellent chef. Sometimes when two worlds collide such as travel and food, one has to take the back seat. I am glad I ran across your page- beautiful pictures and inspiring recipes.

January 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel

Hi Angela,

I am finally back visiting one of my favorite blogs after some time. I did watch that episode and the migas dish caught my attention. Thanks for the recipe, I will try it for sure. It will be something different to do with old bread besides bread pudding and Italian bread and egg soup.


January 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMely

Thanks, Daniel. I totally agree about chorizo. There is just something about it that always makes me hungry. And paired with a little sweetness like grapes or currants, the spicy, fatty chorizo is just heaven. Thanks for visiting; I'm glad you like the blog!

Hey Mely -- Good to hear from you! Recipes using old bread are the best -- virtuous AND tasty! :)

January 24, 2010 | Registered CommenterAngela

I absolutely agree with you that the cookbook is only so-so! I bought it because Mario Batali happened to be at the bookstore and offered signed copies. The photography is beautiful, but hello, why a ginger soy duck? How Spanish is that, Gwyneth?

Still, I think there are quite a few simple dishes. I'm excited to soak some bread in wine and basically make French toast of it.

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMelody

Too funny. There did seem to be a few recipes that didn't quite fit in that book. I think I must have missed the bread-soaked-in-wine dish. That sounds interesting. I'll have to check it out; thanks!

February 11, 2010 | Registered CommenterAngela

Hi Angela, just stopping by to tell you we miss you! Not that I have any right to talk, since I fell off the face of the blogging earth for 4 months. But anyway, I kind of couldn't stand the one episode of this series I saw, so was never inspired to get the cookbook. But a trip to Spain would probably have made me think twice! Hope you had a great time!

March 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

You have really great recipes here and I hope your okay! We miss your posts :)

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlisa

Thanks, Alisa and Andrea! I'm doing great but have been immersed in a cookbook project, which has turned my creative energies away from the blog for a while. I hope to post something soon. Thanks for your encouragement and kind notes!

March 13, 2010 | Registered CommenterAngela

Gosh this looks absolutely delicious!!!

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteraruna

If you are in the corner and have got no money to go out from that point, you would need to receive the loans. Just because that would aid you for sure. I get short term loan every time I need and feel myself fine because of this.

March 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAbbyTownsend23

If you want a good Spanish cookbook, The New Spanish Table is amazing, and talks a lot about regionalism, and Penelope Casa's La Cocina de Mama has amazing recipes.

August 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTink

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