Some years ago, I dispatched a lifelong aversion to scrambled eggs over a plate of migas at Austin’s legendary Las Manitas. It was a revelation. Apparently, all that those bland, rubbery little curds needed was to be subjected to a well-seasoned griddle, lashed to rafts of toothsome corn tortilla, and blitzed with spicy green chiles and fresh tomatoes. Properly called huevos revueltos con migas (migas meaning “crumbs”), this humble creation springs from the grand tradition of scraping together something out of nothing. It is one of many adaptations of a Spanish “peasant dish” that, in its simplest form, consists of bits of day-old bread pan-fried with garlic. In central Mexico, migas is a garlicky soup thickened with stale bolillos and amped up with pig parts. As for the version we Texans know and love, it’s believed to hail from the border region, as so many good things do, and though it may be slightly less complex, it’s no less soul-affirming. Indeed, the traditionally meatless meal is a go-to during Lent in some households. Though if there’s one thing every iteration of this dish is known for, it’s as an antidote to spirituous overindulgence, the sort that inspires a whole different kind of penitence.
16 yellow corn tortillas
vegetable oil for frying
12 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup grated cheese, like cheddar or a good Mexican white (some argue that cheese is not traditional; I feel sad for them)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped firm but ripe tomato
2 finely chopped jalapeños
Cut the tortillas into rectangles, about 1 by 2 inches. Heat 1 1/2 inches of oil over medium-high heat (if you have a favorite cast-iron skillet, this would be a good time to use it). When the oil is hot but not smoking, fry the tortilla pieces, stirring to keep them from sticking together. Before they are crisp, transfer the chips to a plate covered with paper towels to drain. Set aside.
Discard about half the oil (or a little more if you’re alarmed), return the skillet to the heat, and add the eggs. Add the salt and pepper and stir constantly. As the eggs begin to set, add the tortilla chips and continue to stir, scraping the bottom of the pan. When the eggs reach a soft scramble, fold in the cheese, followed by the onion, tomato, and jalapeño. Serve right away, preferably with hot flour tortillas and refried beans.