The Alentejo region in the south is known as “the bread basket of Portugal”. Rolling hills of wheat and world-class pork make this region perfect for creating this traditional dish of wheat bread and pork drippings. Born out of poverty, migas is popular in Alentejo as well as its bordering neighbors, the Extremadura and Andalucia regions of Spain.
Portuguese migas usually is eaten for breakfast or accompanying a main dish. It always includes bread, garlic and olive oil. Other ingredients like pork drippings, bacon, tomato, and vegetables like asparagus and cauliflower are often added along with red pepper paste and cilantro to the versions served-up in Alentejo. Other regions have their own variations which often include cornbread or potatoes as the base. This recipe is an adaptation of an adaptation, which is another way of saying a continuation of perfection.
Cauliflower Bacon Migas – Soaked Bread with Bacon and Cauliflower
- 4-quart saucepan
- Bowl, colander
- 2 tbsp Refogado (recipe below)
- Kosher salt and white pepper
- 1 cup Cauliflower flowerettes (fresh or frozen)
- Olive oil
- ½ lb Extra-thick smoked bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 cups Day-old country bread, ½-inch cubes and toasted. Large store bought croutons work here
- 2 cups Vegetable broth
- 1 Lemon
- ⅛ tsp Dried thyme
- 1 tbsp Cilantro or parsley, chopped
- ½ cup Onion, diced
- 3 cloves Garlic, chopped
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 pinch Saffron (optional)
- 1 cup Diced tomatoes, drained
- 1½ tsp Paprika
- 1 Bay leaf
- Heat diced onion and chopped garlic in a saucepan with 2 tbsp olive oil over medium-low heat. About 10 minutes. Add a pinch of saffron (optional) and stir 2 minutes more. Add diced tomatoes, turn heat to medium and cook another 10 minutes until tomatoes begin to turn dry. Stir often. Mix in paprika and bay leaf. Let cool and either use right away or refrigerate in a sealed container.
- Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Put cauliflower into a plastic freezer bag with ⅛ cup water and seal bag partially. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Immediately drain and dump into ice water to stop it cooking. When cooled, drain and cut into ½-inch pieces.
- In a 4 quart saucepan or Dutch Oven, heat a tsp oil and cook bacon over medium heat until its fat has rendered-out and it is lightly browned. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels.
- Add refogado to the rendered fat and cook, stirring, 2 minutes more. Mix in the bread cubes. Stir in the broth and drizzle with a splash of olive oil. If bread is not fully soaked, add some more stock. Fold in the cauliflower and cook until heated through. Zest lemon over mixture and squeeze in lemon juice.
- To serve, season with salt and pepper, thyme and cilantro. Serve with cooked bacon crumbled over the top.