Sunday, October 14, 2012

Migas

Golden leaves all over my street, the temperature dropping, and the rain with just a few sunny breaks don't fool anyone: Autumn has finally settled. 

I'm more of a Summer girl myself, but there's something about this period, the walnuts, the chestnuts, the first long sleeves, the prospect of a crackling fireplace in the next couple of weeks, that makes me forget the annoying weather, replacing it with a comforting romantic feeling. And giving me time to think about happy days.

I was sitting on my balcony yesterday, thinking about these past Summer holidays: we spent some days travelling through Alentejo, a southern region in Portugal, visiting historical and cultural landmarks and having a taste of some regional dishes here and there. One of the best experiences we had, gastronomically speaking, was trying different versions of one of Alentejo's most famous side dishes: migas. They are made out of softened bread, cooked in fat (usually lard) and some of the juices from the meat that has been cooked to be served with the migas. There are some variations - with potatoes, for example. 

I made my own version yesterday - a bit lighter, adding greens and taking out some of the fat.

Main ingredients of my version of migas: bread, garlic, spinach, bacon, margarine. 
In a frying-pan, fry about 90g of bacon, cut in very little pieces. When it's golden, lower the temperature to medium heat and add the margarine [about 40g]. While it starts melting, add 3 garlic cloves with their skin. Toss it a couple of times so the flavours start blending. Add about 300g of frozen spinach "esparregado" [it is a sort of paste made of puréed spinach and flour, seasoned with garlic, olive oil and vinegar], and let it melt, mixing with a wooden spoon. 

I was going to serve it with a chuck roast, so I took it out of the oven for a bit and removed some of the liquid that formed from the seasoning and the meat [about 80ml], put the meat back in the oven and poured the warm liquid in the frying pan

Then you can take the garlic cloves out and slowly start adding the bread. I only used 3 slices, which I cut in smaller pieces. Migas are traditionally done with regional bread from Alentejo, usually at least one day old, but I didn't have any at home, so I used what I had. But you'll notice the flavour will be really enhanced depending on the quality of the bread. So mash the bread with the back of a spoon, and blend it with the liquid so a paste starts forming. Let it cook for a couple more minutes - I love that light toasted taste - and start tossing it up and down, moving your arm back and forth, so the paste starts rolling itself. You don't need to be a Tossing Master: the ingredients will do most of the work for you - they just need a little push.

To plate it, simply turn the frying-pan over the plate and smoothly toss it so it slides onto the plate. It will stay in shape, just like mine [or better]:

Shake, rattle and roll

Migas go really well with grilled meat or roasts, and a glass of Paulo Laureano Premium red wine. Just perfect to reproduce the feeling I got during my glorious meals in Alentejo this Summer.

And you? Do you prepare certain meals specifically because they remind you of times well spent, or is it just me?

***


As folhas douradas por toda a minha rua, a temperatura a descer, e a chuva com alguns intervalos de sol não enganam ninguém: o outono instalou-se finalmente. 

Sou mais uma rapariga de verão, mas há algo sobre este período, as nozes, as castanhas, as primeiras mangas compridas, o prospecto de uma lareira a crepitar nas próximas semanas, que me faz esquecer o tempo aborrecido, substituindo-o por um sentimento romântico e aconchegante. E que me dá tempo para pensar em dias felizes.

Estava ontem sentada na minha varanda, a pensar nas férias de verão passadas: passámos alguns dias a viajar pelo Alentejo, uma região do sul de Portugal, a visitar marcos históricos e culturais e a provar pratos regionais aqui e ali. Uma das melhores experiências, em termos gastronómicos, foi provarmos diferentes versões de um dos acompanhamentos mais famosos do Alentejo: migas. São feitas com pão amolecido, cozinhado em gordura (normalmente banha) e alguns dos sumos da carne que foi cozinhada para ser servida com as migas. Há algumas variações - com batatas, por exemplo. 

Fiz a minha própria versão ontem - um pouco mais leve, juntando verdes e tirando alguma da gordura.

Numa frigideira, frita cerca de 90g de bacon, cortado em pedaços muito pequenos. Quando estiver dourado, reduz a temperatura para lume médio e adiciona a margarina [cerca de 40g]. Quando começar a derreter, junta 3 dentes de alho com casca. Sacode algumas vezes a frigideira para que os sabores se comecem a misturar. Adiciona cerca de 300g de esparregado de espinafres congelado, e deixa derreter, mexendo com uma colher de pau. 

Ia servir com um assado, por isso tirei-o do forno por uns momentos e retirei algum do líquido que se formou a partir do tempero e da carne [cerca de 80ml], voltei a pôr a carne no forno e verti o líquido quente na frigideira

Entretanto podes tirar os dentes de alho e lentamente começar a adicionar o pão. Usei apenas 3 fatias, que cortei em pedaços mais pequenos. As migas são tradicionalmente feitas com pão regional alentejano, normalmente já pelo menos de um dia, mas não tinha em casa, por isso usei o que tinha. Mas irás notar que o sabor fica muito melhor, dependendo da qualidade do pão. Assim, esmaga o pão com a parte de trás de uma colher, e mistura-o com o líquido para que se comece a formar uma pasta. Deixa cozinhar por mais alguns minutos - adoro aquele ligeiro sabor a tostado - e começa a lançar a pasta para cima e para baixo, mexendo o teu braço para a frente e para trás, para que a pasta se comece a enrolar. Não precisas de ser um Mestre do Lançamento: os ingredientes vão fazer maior parte do trabalho - só precisam de um empurrãozinho.

Para empratar as migas, vira a frigideira para o prato e gentilmente lança o rolo de forma a deslizar para o prato. Não vai perder a forma, tal como o meu [ou melhor]:


As migas combinam mesmo bem com carne grelhada ou assados, e com um copo de vinho tinto Paulo Laureano Premium. Simplesmente perfeito para reproduzir a sensação que obtive durante as minhas gloriosas refeições no Alentejo este verão.

E tu? Preparas determinadas refeições especificamente porque te fazem lembrar de tempos bem passados, ou sou só eu?




28 comments:

  1. I can't wait to try your beautiful recipe for Migas. I have never made it and look forward to it.

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    1. Thank you, Isabel. :) Have a lovely week!

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  2. Such a great recipe! I've had migas before, but never made them. Love the idea of using spinach - genius. Thanks for this.

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    1. Thank you for your lovely words. :) If you like spinach, I think you'll enjoy it. It gives it texture and flavour plus we don't miss out on the greens in the meal.

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  3. As migas ficaram muito apetitosas, Alex, gostei muito !
    Este ano também as comi em pleno Alentejo mais do que uma vez nas curtas viagens que planeámos e fizémos.
    São excelentes ! :)

    Beijinhos

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    1. Então compreendes que este é daqueles pratos que vem do coração: o Alentejo tem tanta coisa bonita para descobrirmos. As migas alentejanas são mesmo qualquer coisa de fenomenal. :) Beijinhos e boa semana!

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  4. Replies
    1. It is [at least if you enjoy spinach and meat]!

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  5. Nice to meet you Alex…thanks for visiting my blog! I am really enjoying my visit to your space! This just looks and sounds wonderfully delicious!

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Kathy. You should try it one time. :)

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  6. Adoro migas!
    beijinhos
    Addicted
    http://cookaddiction.blogspot.pt/

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    1. Acho bem! :D Quando era pequena, tinha um horror à ideia de migas que era qualquer coisa. Mole, empapado. Depois de "velha", ganhei juízo. ;) Beijinhos e boa semana!

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  7. Cooked in lard? I would certainly prefer your home-made version anytime... healthier...

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    1. Ahahahah Well, the real Alentejo migas do get a bit fatty, but everyone knows what they're getting when they ask for them. They're really really good like that - but yes, I wouldn't use it at home either [well, not unless I really have to, and I've succeeded in avoiding it so far]. :) Have a nice week!

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  8. Wow! I've never made it but your post is certainly going to change that very soon!

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    1. I seriously hope so. If you don't like it, I will admit it in public that it is my fault. ;)

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  9. I can imagine this with the pan juices from a roast chicken :)

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    1. Uhhhhhh nice one....... Now my mouth is watering too. :P

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  10. This looks so incredible :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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    1. You have to try it! ;)

      Have a great week!

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  11. Thank you for introducing this to us, Alex! I'm loving it...and lard has always been good to me =)

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    1. It's funny though: my mom used to hate it, so she never used it at home and I grew up avoiding it, too. But I have to admit it: true migas from alentejo need that rich lard aftertaste.

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  12. I do make food that reminds me of my travels. My favorite was trying to find the topping the Danes put on their ice cream, "Guf" and I happened upon a recipe I could modify and use back in the U.S.

    Love use of local bread too, I think that is what makes this recipe of yours so special.

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    1. Oh, now you've just reminded me of my Stroopwaffel fever... :P Disappointing is a strong word, but I never like it when I really want to do something that requires an ingredient I can't get easily.

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  13. I've only tried migas once but didn't know how to make it! Thanks for the instructions-it sounds very doable :D

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    1. The first time I did them I didn't trust my skills to turn them into that roll - but I just had a go at it and it's that easy. [Oh, don't let me start writing about the things I've burnt, or dropped, or broken or melted...] :P

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  14. Que delicia gostei muito! Adorei também a receita do salame de chocolate!
    Bjs
    Mel

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