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Spanish Migas is a stale bread based regional dish. It's prepared with different ingredients all over the peninsula. The Portuguese have their own variant.

  1. How can the bread be cut with the least amount of crumbles? (does it depend on the bread type, the time the bread has gone stale, should the bread be fresh or completely dry, etc)

  2. How can you fry the bread in such a way that the outside is fried and the inside is moist? (is there an amount of water that can be measured, how hot should the pan be, which pan should be used, how much oil should be used)

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Link to recipe? I'm not familiar with the dish by that name, and I do a lot of Spanish/Portuguese cooking. –  FuzzyChef Dec 10 '11 at 6:07
    
@FuzzyChef: Do you mind Spanish recipes? There isn't much translated... –  BaffledCook Dec 10 '11 at 15:50
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4 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted
+100

Regarding your questions:

1) How can the bread be cut with the least amount of crumbles?

Traditionally migas de pastor (shepherd's migas) were the result of rubbing a piece or very dry bread with a couple of rough hands. If you don't rough hands, another way is rubbing 2 halves (lengthways) of a bread stick. This way the migas are all crumbs, but those are traditional migas.

If you want to chop the bread and have dices of bread to fry: Traditional recipes call for dicing bread the day before you cook migas. I advise you to dice the bread (size of normal dice would be fine, bigger would be ok too) when the bread is still soft. Because, if bread is too dry can be even a bit dangerous to chop...

(does it depend on the bread type, the time the bread has gone stale, should the bread be fresh or completely dry, etc)

Type of bread: Tradicional recipes call for breads such as chiabatta / candeal. These breads have a strong crust. Nowadays, breads like baguette or, if you're living in Spain, the common "pistolas" are ok too (and easier to chop / dice too).

Time for bread going stale: it depends of the real quality of bread and your living location. Meaning: the more artisan the bread is, the longer time time would need to go stale. A common bread is normally not so good, so it really depends where you live. Regarding your location: If you live close to the sea, bread would go even softer, like chewing gum, don't expect like stone-stale bread. If you live in a drier environment, it will get dry and stale in a couple of days. I would wait much time, because believe me it is really difficult to chop and dice when bread gets very dry.

Therefore, experience is the key for every migas cook! I know it's not very exact, but that's the way it is...

About purchasing the bread fresh or not: In Spain, in places where migas are a very common dish, you can find diced migas ready to fry in a normal supermarket. Outside these regions, you would only find normal "fresh" bread.

  1. How can you fry the bread in such a way that the outside is fried and the inside is moist? (is there an amount of water that can be measured, how hot should the pan be, which pan should be used, how much oil should be used)

Water and oil needed: Any spanish granny would say that there is no measure for this... crazy, huh? I found some recipes which call for 1 glass of water (250 ml) per half bread stick. Some recipes say to wait 12 hours to moisture bread, some others don't... Oil: this is really your choice. I advise to cover the base of a frying pan with olive oil and some garlic cloves, when it is hot, add the diced bread and cover bread with oil. If you see oil hasn't moisture all the bread in the pan, add some more, little by little. Greasy migas are not so good...

About the pan: it is better to use a pan like this, not so deep not so flat either.

Oh, and you didn't say anything about chorizo or panceta (fresh bacon). Without them migas are not real ;) Fried them before adding to the migas.

Hope this helps!!

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Thanks Ana, I've described the methods that I've seen for making Migas see below. –  BaffledCook Feb 19 '12 at 21:28
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I think Ana's answer is great for dicing the bread and general bread advise.

I've seen a number of migas' cooks at work and here's the extract. Which method would you use?

  1. The anti-migas. The best migas I've ever had were/are made by a friend of mine. His method is modern and that's why I call it anti-migas. He fries the chorizo, bacon, garlic, etc. and mixes the grease and the rest of the ingredients with the bread until he gets it moist but not too much so. He then let's the mixture sit for some time. One minute in the microwave and done. (note: I do not own a microwave).

  2. Dry on grease migas. This is the method described by Anna. The bread is cubed and can get dry afterwards. Then everything is fried and put apart. Then the dry cubes are put on top of the grease, water and more grease are added and stirred on a medium flame for about 10'. Second best migas by another friend of mine.

  3. Wet on grease migas. This is the classic method as described by FuzzyChef. The cubes are soaked pretty moist the day before and are covered with a cloth. The rest is just as the second method, but it takes much longer to get them right. The wetter they are, the longer it takes. A Spanish aunt of my wife does that.

  4. Dry on dry migas. The problem with method 2 and 3 (for me) is that the bread becomes stuck to the bottom of the pan. This method starts dry and adds grease and water after adding the bread to the pan. The grease and water are spooned onto the bread so the bread doesn't become soaked. My neighbor and I use this method... but my (neighbor's) migas are not at the top of this list :-(

Of course, any of these general methods depend on the amount of water added, the amount of grease and the size of the cubes.

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Wow! I like the list you've made! Number 3 takes time but also makes wonderful migas! And number 1 is fantastic, just amazed me! I may try it in the near future ;) –  Ana_ILTdP Feb 21 '12 at 14:58
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To answer your questions. I have not actually prepared Spanish migas, but I have made numerous other dishes involving stale bread, fried, baked or simmered, including some Spanish dishes.

  1. I would suggest using chewy bread with a heavy crust, which will hold together better through soaking and frying. Like a French batard or pain au levain, or even a baguette. I don't know Spanish or Portuguese breads well enough to suggest the appropriate loaf. Note that this will be quite difficult to cut once stale; I suggest using a medium cleaver rather than a bread knife.

  2. Cut large cubes of bread and soak them with just a little salt water for a long time (this is what the recipe you linked specifies, as well). Then fry them with lots of grease on high heat so that the outside cooks quickly before the inside dries out.

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It's hard to obtain good bread, and getting the correct point of chewyness is even harder. Next time I'll try with the cleaver. Frying on high heat is not recommended by the experts, they prefer low and slow, but it's a time consuming activity. –  BaffledCook Dec 17 '11 at 22:37
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This is a recipe for Mexican Migas. It uses tortillas, pan fried, instead of bread, which may address (2). Another approach would be to look into deep frying techniques--some batters or cooking methods produce texture contrasts just like what you're looking for.

Re 1: Yes, it does depend on the bread type. I think dry bread tends to crumb up more...so I would cut it when it's fresher and hasn't gone stale yet. I feel obligated to mention my philosophy on cooking: that the most educational approach is to use leftover ingredients, or at least whatever is easily available, to learn to adapt to different conditions.

So while I think fresher bread might crumb less, perhaps you'll figure out a way to make dry bread easily sliceable without crumbs. Or maybe you can try out a nice side dish to use the small crumbs...or save the small crumbs for another time. There's a lot of room to be creative here.

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