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Sep 9, 2003 08:13 PM

Migas v. Chilaquiles Musings

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I started a discussion (link below) regarding the differences between Migas and Chilaquiles on the Texas board because it is my belief that while Migas may be THE breakfast for Austinites andis well-known in Texas, I have never seen it served outsite of Texas. When I moved to San Francisco, the closest dish I could find was something called Chilaquiles.

I am interested in hearing from Texans what they believe the defining characteristics of Migas are, particularly in comparison to Chilaquiles.

My experience:
20-ish years ago – the “migas” made by my family & purchased in restaurants was a baked eggs & tortilla/chips dish with salsa, cheese, and other Mexican-ish ingredients. It was solely a breakfast food. (I remember a relative explaining it to someone as “a Mexican Breakfast Lasagne” – weird, I know.)
Today – every recipe I found on the internet was a skillet recipe.

10-ish years ago to present – the breakfast chilaquiles I can purchase in restaurants is a skillet dish with eggs & tortillas/chips (and salsa, cheese and other Mexican-ish ingredients). In general, the tortillas/chips have been dregged in the salsa/sauce and fried or cooked in some way before adding the other ingredients. Also, while breakfast chilaquiles are common, I have also seen it on lunch & dinner menus without eggs.

What happened?
Does the old baked migas still exist as served in Austin restaurants (or in homes)?
Or has the recipe evolved from a baked to skillet as served in Austin?
I don’t remember ever eating Chilaquiles in Texas growing up. Does anyone know the origin of Chilaquiles?


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  1. This won't speak to your question directly, but there was a recipe in last week's NYTimes for migas made with chorizo, bread and garlic. In a skillet.

    1. OK, here's an opinion from the middle of Mexico: chilaquiles are predominately, but not always, a breakfast food. They are usually composed of stale tortilla strips fried in a skillet with (usually) diced onion until the tortillas are somewhat crisp. At that point, either a red or green salsa is poured over the mixture in the skillet and cooked until it's absorbed a bit. The chilaquiles are served with thinly sliced onions and a dollop of Mexican cream on top. A fried egg is frequently served on top as well. This is how chilaquiles are served in most restaurants and homes here. I have never eaten baked chilaquiles in Mexico.

      HOWEVER: my friend from the state of Michoacán, who is one of the best cooks I know, taught me to prepare her grandmother's recipe for breakfast chilaquiles by sauteing the diced onions with minced chile serrano until they're soft and then frying the tortilla strips in the skillet. When the tortilla strips are crispy, beaten eggs are poured into the skillet and scrambled until the egg is set but not hard-scrambled. Red or green salsa and crema are served on the side. This is how I always prepare chilaquiles at home.

      Migas sound wonderful and I'd like to have a great recipe for the dish. The only *miga* I'm aware of is what we take out of the middle of a bolillo before preparing a torta: the 'crumb', as mentioned in the definitions posted in the Texas-board thread.

      And thanks for moving this thread over, it's really interesting.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Cristina

        > The only *miga* I'm aware of is what we take out
        > of the middle of a bolillo before preparing a torta

        This "migas" recipe sounds like the tapa found in Spain. You take day old bread or discarded parts of bread, toast/fry them in a pan with oil and garlic, grind it up (essentially making bread crumbs) and then toss it with spinach, garbanzos, or bacon.

        1. re: butterfly

          When we make-
          migas- panfry thin sliced raw corn tortillas, peppers, etc. and toss with cooked eggs and bake with cheese and sauce on top.
          chilaquiles- panfry vegetables, peppers etc. and some liquid then toss with fried corn torilla chips, and cooked eggs and serve with the chips whole but becoming damp.

          1. re: ken

            Wow, that sounds like a really good way to use up old tortillas. Is it a tex-mex thing? I don't think I've never seen it in Mexico...

      2. The first time I encountered chilaquiles was in Baja about 25 years ago. It appeared to be a thrifty way of using last night's stale tortillas and leftover bits of meat turned into a breakfast dish by the addition of scrambled eggs, sauce, and a sprinkle of cheese in a skillet. I always thought migas was the same sort of homey simple dish using bread instead of tortillas and I thought it was Tex-Mex. Perhaps the chilaquiles casserole is a brunch version invented in this country to serve a group? I have used it that way. Then the last time I had chilaquiles in Mexico (Guanajuato, 2000) it arrived as saucy tortilla strips with fried egg on top.

        1. Forgive me for sort of blasting in the time to read the backlog, but just wanted to add this info, which is pretty obscure

          Migas actually originate from Asturias, in Spain, historically a rather impoverished region (and therefore, a great one for this day!). Their migas is a dish of crumbs sauteed in olive oil with (MAYBE) a scrap of sausage and a piece of leftover garlic. Really really really heavy serious soul food. You are NOT supposed to drink any fluid with migas, because the liquid will make them expand in your stomach.

          just FYI

          Chilaquiles are indeed a similar dish....toss some old fried tortillas (which are, themselves, a resourceful way to recycle cheaply) in a pan, witha bit of meat, etc.

          Creativity flourishes under impediment.


          8 Replies
          1. re: Jim Leff

            Here's a photo of our favorite the chilaquiles in SF. Michael always gets the red, I always get the green.

            FYI - this all started because I was thinking of making a big batch of migas for the early morning volunteers at the SF Chowing with the Hounds Picnic and I wanted to compare my family recipe against "industry standard". Given the lack of industry standard, they'll just have to choke down my version.


            1. re: Pssst

              "Michael always gets the red, I always get the green."

              Reminds me of another breakfast fave - huevos divorciados. One egg poached in red sauce ala rancheros, the other in green sauce served on fried tortilla with beans and cheese. Mmmm...

            2. re: Jim Leff
              closet spaniard

              I hate to correct the Alpha Dog, but Spanish "migas" are traditionally from Andalucia (as opposed to Asturias in the north, where you would be hard pressed to find it offered).

              It's one of the oldest dishes in Spain. There's even a town near Malaga (Torrox) that has a Migas Fiesta in December.

              Migas is one of those dishes you can throw almost any leftover into--for example, fatback, raisins, bacon, chorizo, garbanzos, sardines, peppers, spinach, etc.

              1. re: closet spaniard
                closet spaniard

                I should have also said that other regions--particularly Extremadura, Aragón, and Castilla y León --lay claim to migas.

                In any case, it's clearly a dish that goes back to the Moors (which is why you won't find it as much in the North), and I've heard that the texture was inspired by couscous. Of course, as was their way, the Medieval Spanish Christians started throwing in a little pork to make it their own...

                I've never heard of the Mexican variety. It's very interesting to see how long a dish can endure and adapt.

                1. re: closet spaniard

                  I think the Andaluz dish morphed into another specialty of Castilla y Leon: Duelos y Quebrantos, which were referenced in Don Quixote de la Mancha and survive in the region today.

                2. re: closet spaniard

                  Oops, I miswrote. I meant Aragon. They're all over Aragon (all sorts of great food is all over's the Connecticut of Spain, the most overlooked food region...ever have a fried calamari sandwich? Heaven!).

                  I know you can find them in Andalucia, but my sources say that the Aragonese came first. Of course, my sources are Aragonian!


                  1. re: Jim Leff
                    closet spaniard

                    > Of course, my sources are Aragonian!

                    Yes, then that makes perfect sense.

                    I'm a displaced Asturiano who just happened to be in Malaga during the migas festival one year, so perhaps I've been brainwashed by their way of thinking. In any case, you've got to give them credit for striving to feed the entire town a dish that goes back at least 800 years (I seem to remember reading that they found a recipe for it dating back to the 13th century).

                    I'll have to give more thought to that "Aragón is the Connecticut of Spain" analogy...

                    1. re: closet spaniard

                      I think Jim was referring to the unexpectedly high quality of cocina aragonesa. The terrain and ingredients certainly are not the same!

                      On a similar note, however, I am reminded of two analogies that were communicated (proudly, I might add!) when I was met by local people in two cities. The first was "Milan is the Detroit of Italy." The second: "Jacksonville is the Hartford of the South." I stifled my laughter in both cases.

                      What area of Asturias are you from? I crave fabada more often than I admit!

              2. You can order chilaquiles in just about every little Mexican restaurant in San Antonio, Texas. I was hard-pressed to find it when I lived in California, and when I found it, it wasn't done the way I remembered it - cheese, scrambled eggs, onions, salsa, slightly softened tortilla chips.... Since then, i've encountered it in a variety of forms. In one particularly an odd place in Virginia, it was mostly refried beans and cheese. In one place in Astoria Queens, there were a few varieties, all meaty and all very bad. I miss my Texas chilaquiles. Cheap, simple, better than aspirin if you've overdone it the night before.