I’m one of those people who loves a hearty, savory breakfast; give me some enmoladas, huevos rancheros or tacos de birria and I’m a happy camper.
Waffles, pancakes, cinnamon rolls and the like are just too sweet for me first thing in the morning. (Although I will take a bite of yours!) So migas — kind of a Mexican scramble — are right up my alley.
You could call them a cousin of chilaquiles, those beloved breakfast nachos. They begin with a base of tortilla chips, are ultimately smothered in salsa and melted cheese, and can include a host of other ingredients on top — most commonly chicken, eggs, machaca or chorizo.
Migas are different in that although they include fried tortilla strips or pieces, scrambled eggs are the main ingredient, and they’re thoroughly mixed in with everything else. The word migas actually makes sense: it means “scraps” in Spanish, and essentially that’s what they are.
Migas are a “top-shelf special” sort of dish, meaning that all those little leftover bits and pieces of things sitting in the fridge can be tossed in with the eggs, tortilla strips (and sometimes salsa), and the result is something hearty and irresistibly delicious.
Different parts of Mexico have their own way of making migas, and there’s even a Tex-Mex version, which — like American-style burritos — includes specific ingredients like sour cream, avocado, chopped bell peppers, onion and tomato. Salsas can either be mixed into the scramble or added on top once it’s served.
(This can be a source of disagreement as to what’s “authentic,” depending on where in Mexico you are.) There are Spanish and Portuguese versions too, and even vegan migas (nicknamed “vigas”) made with tofu instead of chorizo. If you’re so inclined, you can also use nacho cheese flavor Doritos instead of plain ol’ tortilla strips for a burst of strong, and some might say picante, flavor.
What’s great about this Mexican breakfast skillet is that you can jazz it up or keep it simple. Two things are going to take your migas from mediocre to “mmmm:” the tortilla strips and how you cook the eggs.
First, the tortilla strips. Do not — repeat, do not! — buy them already fried in a bag. (Unless you’re using Doritos, LOL.) The best are made from tortillas that you bought fresh and have gone stale; fry them yourself. If need be, buy a half-kilo of fresh ones from a nearby tortillería and leave them spread out on a cookie sheet or on plates for a few hours to dry out.
Use kitchen shears to cut them into strips. Tip: as long as you’re going to be making tortilla strips anyway, why not make more to have on hand for snacking, salads or as a topping for chicken or tortilla soup?
To prevent your migas from just being scrambled eggs with stuff in them, you need to thoroughly mix everything while cooking until it becomes a big goopy mess. (Which is what they’re supposed to be.) Eat them on their own, or make tacos.
Migas are comfort food, warm and hearty and easy to throw together; they’re also touted as a hangover remedy, should that be something you’re needing, especially with the holidays upon us. The following is the basic recipe, open for modification as you desire.
- 3 large eggs, whisked together
- 1 tsp. salt
- About ¼ cup vegetable or corn oil
- 4 corn tortillas, cut into 1½ x ¾-inch strips, plus more for making tacos
- ¼ cup diced white onion
- ¼ cup diced green bell or poblano pepper
- 1 cup shredded Oaxaca, ranchero, Jack or mozzarella cheese
- Optional: ¼ cup chorizo, chopped cooked nopales, chopped tomatoes
- Toppings: sliced avocado, refried beans, grated cotija cheese, chopped cilantro, pickled jalapenos, salsa
Use an air fryer (see below) or make on the stovetop. In a medium saucepan, heat about 2 inches of oil till hot and shimmering, 350 F (180 C). Add tortilla strips and cook, flipping and stirring constantly, until bubbles slow to a trickle and chips are pale golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels, season with salt and set aside.
In the same or a new skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. oil (the remainder from the tortilla strips or new) till hot. Add onions and peppers. Stir frequently until softened. Add eggs, stirring to combine ingredients. Add tortilla strips and salsa if you’d like and any optional ingredients; continue cooking for a few minutes, stirring often, until eggs are cooked to desired doneness. Top with cheese, turn off heat, cover and let sit till cheese melts. When ready to serve, add toppings as desired. For tacos, heat whole tortillas and serve on the side for filling with the migas.
Air-Fryer Tortilla Strips
- 3-4 corn tortillas, cut onto ¼-inch strips.
- 1 tsp. olive or canola oil spray
Preheat air fryer to 375F. Spray the bottom of the air fryer with cooking spray. Add tortilla strips in a single layer; spray with oil again. Toss, sprinkle with salt and stir again. Set air fryer for 4–6 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through.
Check for doneness: If tortillas strips haven’t reached desired crispiness, cook for another minute, shaking the basket halfway through.
Janet Blaser is the author of the best-selling book, Why We Left: An Anthology of American Women Expats, featured on CNBC and MarketWatch. She has lived in Mexico since 2006. You can find her on Facebook.