The Lee Brothers' Austin-Style Brunch
One of Austin’s culinary icons is migas, a fry-up of eggs, onions, fresh chilies and tortilla chips, typically sluiced with a tomato salsa that’s served without fanfare at countless diners, family restaurants, and greasy spoons. Migas means “crumbs” in Spanish, and the roots of the dish can be traced to the Old World, specifically to Portugal and Spain. Popular legend has it that the migas we know and love was introduced to the United States by Mexican immigrants to Texas, who needed to make use of stale corn tortillas they couldn’t bare to discard.
However the dish came about, migas is a dynamite hangover-remedy and brunch dish. On our last trip to Austin, we were chagrined to find that our favorite spot for migas, Las Manitas Avenue Café, owned and operated by sisters Cynthia and Lidia Perez for 25 years, was gone. The building that housed the restaurant had been demolished to make room for a 1,000-room convention-center and hotel. Consider this recipe a tribute to the Perez sisters. There’s talk in town that a new Las Manitas may rise again in a different location, and we certainly hope one does. Perhaps it’s time to replace the “Keep Austin Weird” bumper stickers with a new one: “Keep Austin Delicious.”
This recipe is fairly traditional—the only tweak we’ve made here is completely optional: after a night of Austin-style cocktails (tequila and Texsun grapefruit juice), we serve the migas over cooked collard greens to make it even more restorative and nutritious.
Austin-Style Brunch: Greens and Eggs Migas
Time: 25 minutes preparation, 10 minutes cooking
1/2 cup canola oil
Three 6-inch corn tortillas, cut pizza-style into 8 triangles
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
8 large eggs, beaten (obviously I culled this recipe down for just moi)
4 ounces, extra-sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
3 – 4 cups cooked collard greens (optional)
Fresh or store-bought salsa, for serving
Heat the oil and one of the small tortilla triangles in a large skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat until the tortilla sizzles vigorously. Add the remaining tortilla pieces and stir them in the hot oil until they become crispy and browned, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted metal spoon, transfer them to a plate lined with a double thickness of paper towels. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and set aside.
Pour off the oil, and add butter to the skillet, and when it's completely melted and frothing, add the onion and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook until the onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Add the eggs and the tortilla chips, and scramble until the eggs are curdy but still moist, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese over the top, cover, and cook just until the cheese melts, about 45 seconds.
Divide the collard greens among the 4 warm serving plates, and top each portion with eggs and spoonfuls of salsa.
Matt and Ted Lee are contributing editors at Travel + Leisure, and author's of the newly published cookbook Simple Fresh Southern: Knockout Dishes with Down-Home Flavor.