Flash in the Pan

Corn chip migas


Migas is a crumby dish. The word literally means “crumbs” in Spanish. It’s an Iberian recipe that was once popular with hunters and mountain people in southern Spain and Portugal and made its way to Mexico and Texas. 

Migas is a method as much as a recipe — a way to use stale bread and, later, old tortillas. Europeans fried bread in olive oil with garlic, parsley, peppers, tomatoes and chorizo and served it with eggs on top. In Mesoamerica, stale tortillas made of corn and flour replaced bread, but the idea remained the same.

When I first tried corn chip migas, I realized I’d never have to worry about what to do with the dregs of a bag of corn chips again. What a relief!

But you don’t have to wait until the bag is nearly gone to make this dish. There’s no law against whole-chip migas. When it’s made with unbroken chips, the dish is almost nacho-esque. 

Some like the chips dry and crunchy, while others like them soft, so they blend seamlessly with the eggs. Some like meat and veggies with their migas, while others keep it simple.

But few would dispute that the dish goes extraordinarily well with salsa and, for those who indulge, a cup of coffee on the side.

My version of migas includes bacon, garlic and cheese. Sometimes I add potatoes, either cooked or in potato chip form. I’ve also added Terra-brand baked vegetable chips, which are quite the colorful mix, alongside my yellow, white or blue corn chips, all topped with eggs that are puffy and browned.

If you want your migas to be crunchy, your best course of action is to start by frying the tortilla crumbs on medium heat in a dry pan. Then add the oil and eggs to the hot pan and quickly scramble it all.

I like my chips soft, so I add them early, letting them sit in the egg mixture before I even cook the bacon. After the bacon is crispy, I pull the chips from the bowl and add them to the bacon-greased, buttered or oiled pan. Then I “fream” them.

To fream is to fry and steam at the same time with the lid on and moisture in the pan. This creates heat and pressure, which cook food more quickly and throughout, rather than from below, so you don’t burn the bottom while you try to cook the top. Heavy lids are best for freaming, as they create the most pressure by trapping the steam. Glass is nice because you can monitor moisture levels without letting the steam escape.

At the end of the day — or more likely, the beginning — we’re making scrambled eggs with corn chips. Whether freamed or fried, it’s not that complicated. The details are negotiable.


Corn chip migas

In this one-pan breakfast dish, egg and tortilla chips combine for a savory casserole. I’ll explain how to make both crispy migas and soft migas. Whichever you prefer, you’ll never look at a near-empty bag of chips the same way.

Makes one serving

  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons oil or one strip of bacon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • Corn chips
  • Other chips, such as potato chips or vegetable chips
  • Salsa or hot sauce
  • Coffee

Beat the eggs in a medium-sized bowl. Add the milk and shakes of salt and pepper and beat again. For soft migas, add your chips to the beaten egg immediately and stir them around to make sure all the chips are coated.

If using bacon, chop a slice into 1/2-inch rectangles.

Heat the oil on medium in a heavy-bottomed pan with a tight-fitting lid, preferably a heavy glass lid with no vent hole on top. Add the bacon and let it start to cook. When it’s almost done, add the parsley and garlic. Stir frequently to avoid burning. For crispy migas, add the chips to the oil and cook for an additional five minutes on medium, stirring to prevent burning.

Add the eggs, along with any chips that might be soaking, to the hot pan, tilting to spread the mixture around evenly. Sprinkle the cheese on top.

Put the lid on the pan and fream. You shouldn’t have to add any water, as the milk adds plenty. Peek if you need to — it should be steamy under the lid. When you smell the eggs starting to brown, you know it’s almost done. Take a peek to confirm it’s cooked on top, then turn off the heat.

If you want the eggs to be extra dry, give them a stir, put the lid back on and let them sit for five minutes. For moist eggs, serve immediately.

Serve the migas with salsa and hot coffee.


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