Monday, December 15, 2008

Have You Had Migas Yet? Really?

Texture means a lot to me in a meal. I’m always a fan of a successful combination of chewy and crunch. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of biting into a taco or sandwich or cookie or whatever when it manages to successfully combine the two qualities. Maybe it’s the Libra in me, but, dammit, the balance is divine.

In elementary school (and many times after), I used to squish chips into my sandwiches. When Taco Bell came out with their Double Decker, a hard taco INSIDE a soft taco, it was a glorious day for my stoner high school days. Sober, turned out that taco was effin’ disgusting, as the hard taco would get all soft and gooey from the crappy refried beans smashed around the taco shell, but since then I’ve moved on to much better things (Thankfully, NOT this.). Things like: Soft cookies with crunchy pecans inside! Carrots dipped in hummus! Eggs scrambled with crunchy corn tortillas! Woot!

As soon as we got to Texas, I introduced Nathan to migas – a concoction, essentially, of eggs and (usually) tortilla chips, scrambled (usually) with onions, bell peppers, salsa, whatever. I’d never had migas in a restaurant actually until I was living in Portland, Oregon. A restaurant near my house at the time had it on the menu, as chilaquiles, and I was hit with nostalgia and so much salivation. The description was just what I remembered migas to be – corn chips scrambled with eggs and other stuff. Growing up, my mom would make me migas on special days, and basically whenever I wanted, because she’s awesome. Her way was with fresh corn tortillas, torn into little pieces, sautéed with oil on the stovetop until they were crunchy, and then scrambled with eggs. At the time I hated onions AND tomatoes (I know, crazy), so my migas were pretty plain, but I loved LOVED them. Turns out chilaquiles are not quite the same thing. From wikipedia:

Chilaquiles is a traditional Mexican dish consisting of fried or dried tortilla chips, bathed in green or red salsa or mole, and broiled or grilled with a cheese topping. Sometimes chicken strips are mixed into the sauce, or the dish can be served with a fried egg on top or a strip of meat alongside.

They are most commonly eaten at breakfast time, served alongside with fried or scrambled eggs or a Mexican style grilled beef. Moreover, chilaquiles are often lauded as a cure for la cruda--the common hangover.

Unlike nachos, which are served as a crispy snack, chilaquiles are a main dish and are not served until the tortilla chips are thoroughly soaked and softened by the salsa. This makes them a popular recipe for stale chips, or those with a bad taste, as the other flavors mask that of the chips'.

In Texas, migas (also known as migajas) is a traditional breakfast dish in Tex-Mex cuisine. Originally eaten during Lent, this meatless dish consists of egg scrambled and sauteed together in butter or oil with torn strips of corn tortillas, diced onions, sliced chile peppers, diced fresh tomatoes, and cheese, plus various spices and condiments (e.g. salsa, pico de gallo). Migas are typically served with refried beans, and corn or flour tortillas are used to enfold all of the ingredients into delicious migas tacos. The traditional Mexican main-course dish chilaquiles is similar to migas in some respects.
I am biased towards Migas, I have to say. And I have yet to find a migas dish in a restaurant that even comes close to the migas I can throw together myself. Nathan liked the dish a lot at the restaurants we went to when we first got to Texas. Since I’ve made it for him at the house, he halfway demands it on some mornings. This stuff is so easy though, it’s nice for a lazy evening when you don’t feel like a full-blown supper and all you have in the refrigerator is a dozen eggs and that 100-count bag of corn tortillas you’ve barely put a dent in. Plus, this dish is so freaking delicious. It is a match of chewy and crunchy made in heaven. (Drool….)

Now this is definitely not the healthiest thing ever, and it’s obviously not vegan. But it is cheap and yummy, and, for me, that’s okay sometimes.
Poor Man’s Migas

Serves two hungry people

6 corn tortillas, torn into bite-sized pieces, about 1 inch x 1 inch or smaller
1 small onion, chopped
1 (maybe 2?) tablespoon canola oil
6 eggs
Salt, to taste
Salsa, or just a tasty hot sauce
I had some feta and cilantro laying around, they go nicely with this

Heat the oil on a large sauté pan with medium-high heat. When oil is hot, but not smoky, add the tortillas, stirring to coat in oil. Try to use all of the surface area of the pan, and stir every now and then to alternate sides of the tortilla pieces. If they are burning and/or look pretty dry still, either add more oil or turn down the heat. You want them to get crunchy, not blackened. It’s not a big deal though, it’ll be delicious either way. This takes about 5-6 minutes. When nice and crunchy, put aside on paper towel to soak up any extra oil if you got oil-happy.

In same pan, now that the tortilla pieces have been placed aside, reheat pan and (making sure there is enough oil still on the pan), sauté the onions until translucent. Lower the heat to medium and n a small bowl, break eggs and stir, adding salt, and spices if you are feeling fancy. Once that’s all mixed together, pour into pan with onions and stir. Once eggs start to cook a bit, about halfway, add crunchy tortilla pieces. If you add them too soon they will get soggy and you will have failed! (Just kidding, it will still be good.) At this point if you have feta, I highly recommend crumbling some of that into the scramble. Once the eggs are cooked, turn off heat and serve asap. Garnish with cilantro and you can either scramble in the salsa or put it on the table for others to add at their leisure.

Hope that makes sense. I’m not so seasoned (no pun intended) with writing recipes. And this was a super basic one. It’s super open and you can add all sorts of things to it, depending on what you have around the kitchen, like chopped tomatoes, cumin, paprika, coriander, avocado, peppers, or heat up some flour tortillas and make migas tacos! WHOA.

Again, it’s not the healthiest meal, so you don’t want to make this all the time, every day. But it’s a nice treat and impresses visiting friends and lovers. And, for me, it’s nostalgic yumminess that takes me back to those wonderful days when mom could make everything better and I was blissfully ignorant of my own egotism. Awww. Actually, those things may still be the case.

Wow, I wrote a lot.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting, I've never heard of this before. But I love vegan ham and crisp (chips) sammiches. The crunch factor is key. I love crisps/tortilla chips so much, but I vowed to not eat them for a year (It's been 3 months since my last crisp! *weep*!). I was eating 'share bags' like a horse with a nose bag! >:op
I bet this would work just as well with scrambled tofu (Give me 9 more months and I'll try it!)

annette said...

I am impressed at your show of will in not eating tortilla chips. So impressed.

I have been intending to try a tofu scramble version of this, but my tofu scramble skills are still lacking. I'm sure it would still be pretty yummy though.

nathan said...

migas: puttin' the texture in texmex..

beck's, not sure if your vow is for greasy tortilla chips or for anything crunchy or crispy but you don't have to use storebought bad for you tortilla chips for this.

if you want some awesome migas, just cut some corn tortillas in quarters, throw em in the oven and bake them at 350F on a baking sheet. 10 minutes later you'll have delicious non-greasy tortilla chips that you can make a damn good tofu scramble with...