Eggs with Dregs

Hunger—and potato chip crumbs—are mothers of invention

There was a brief, glorious period in my life when I thought I had invented a delicious breakfast dish, which, it turns out, has long existed.

Migas translates from Spanish into “crumbs.” In Portuguese, the word is migalhas. In both countries, “crumbs” are typically made with day-old bread and a varying mix of meat, veggies and seasonings. There’s also a Jewish version that combines old matzo with eggs.

The migas that I thought I had invented is a Tex-Mex dish made with leftover tortilla chips, or tortillas, and eggs, along with regional ingredients like salsa, cheese, beans and avocado.

When my inspiration hit, I was standing in my kitchen, holding a nearly empty bag of corn chips, wondering what to do with them. The chips were all too small for dipping, but I still hated to waste them. Instead of tossing the tortilla crumbs to my deserving hens, I tossed them into a hot pan of bacon and grease.

A few moments later, when the bacon was done to my liking, I tossed in some raw garlic, stirred it around and then poured a couple of beaten eggs into the pan. After a couple of stirs, I turned off the heat, seasoned the dish with salt and pepper, adorned it with salsa, then christened it Eggs with Dregs.

By the time I first saw migas on a menu, in a northern New Mexico restaurant, I had already experimented with the dish several times. I read the menu description of migas with a mixture of disappointment and excitement. The fame I had assumed was coming my way for creating Eggs with Dregs vanished before my eyes, but still I couldn’t wait to taste what this New Mexican cook would do with my recipe.

It wasn’t much different, although being in Northern New Mexico, there was red chile mixed in. And being in a restaurant, whole chips were used, not dregs.

My propensity to experiment with chips and eggs reared its head again on a recent car-camping trip. This foray led to another version of migas that, after a spirited Google search, I feel I can legitimately call my own.

Instead of corn chips, this dish incorporates potato chips—preferably jalapeno cheddar potato chips. All one must remember to do is scramble some eggs and toss in the chips, or the crumbs thereof, when the eggs are nearly done. The outcome depends entirely on the quality of chip and your proficiency at scrambling eggs.

There should be enough oil to thoroughly coat the pan so the eggs float on top when first added. We don’t want eggs touching bare pan, which can lead to them sticking and burning.

Before adding the eggs, you have the opportunity to toss in vegetables or spices, such as chopped garlic, garlic flower sections, asparagus or other egg-friendly goodies. When these are properly done, pour in the beaten eggs.

Let the eggs set up briefly, then give it all one quick stir. If using cheese, add it now. Then add the potato chips, stir again briefly and arrange the eggs in a pile, where they will stay warm, while any remaining gooiness is cooked firm.

Your potato chip migas are ready for consumption. I hope you enjoy them. And if anyone has already heard of this dish, please don’t tell me. Unless the recipe is really interesting.

Sonoma County Library