I may have mentioned once or a doze times on this blog that I am a Jewtina (Jewish Latina.) It’s kind of a fun mix to be. So much color and spice and the opportunity to confuse the hell out of regular ol’ people who think all Latinx folk are Catholic. Newsflash: we’re not. Oh! But I understand the assumption. I wasn’t always Jewish…well I wasn’t always a practicing Jew. And in my little part of the world, I, too thought most Latinx folks were Catholic. Honestly, I thought everyone was Catholic. I grew up in a place where most of my friends were Catholic — German Catholic and Irish Catholic and Mexican Catholic. I was the oddball out with no particular religious upbringing. But just in growing up in a heavily Catholic community, I go to know a lot of about Christmas. And Easter. But Passover? Not so much.
Fast forward a couple of decades, and here we are! I’m Jewish. I’m Mexican American. I know a whole lot more about Passover and I really think we’d all be much happier if Passover was shortened to about two days. So far I haven’t found any fellow members of the tribe to back me on this and it turns out we don’t have a central governing body who can undo millennia of tradition.
So for eight days during Passover we remember our escape from slavery under Pharaoh and into freedom. As we beat cheeks across the desert, the story goes, we didn’t have time for our bread to rise and instead we carried these bland, flat crackers we call matzo (matzah? matzoh? We can’t agree on that either.) And forever more, during those eight days, the descendants of those Hebrews will only eat matzo and no other grains, specifically wheat, rye, barley, oats, and spelt. And the celiacs among us rejoice!
Now if you’re Ashkenazi, the prohibitions don’t stop there. A whole new class of no-no foods called kitniyot have been listed and given reasons as to why an observant Jew should not consume them. But I won’t go into that here. Why?
Because we’re Sephardi! And the Mexicans rejoice! Sephardi Jews are those of us who are descended from the Jews of the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal.) What this means for us during Passover is that we have traditionally never followed the prohibitions regarding kitniyot. So bring on the corn! Bring on the rice! Give me a bowl of beans!
My husband, however, is Ashkenazi. *whomp, whomp* We celebrated our first Passover together in 2006 and I remember him telling me about what his mom would make for him and what he couldn’t eat. He told me he really loved matzo brei. Cue me all “Huh?” I had no idea what that was and he described this matzo-egg-fried deliciousness. It sounded similar enough to one of my favorite anytime breakfast dishes – migas, but during Passover, at least for him, they weren’t allowed.
Migas Brei was born! Congratulations for making it through all those words just to get to a recipe with no picture (sorry!) Please give this recipe a try! You don’t have to be Jewish to make and love matzo brei. If you decide to forgo the matzo (and I honestly can’t blame you. That stuff’s like glue on the old digestive track), you can sub corn tortillas (skipping the soaking step and going right to the frying step) and make migas, instead.
Migas Brei (Tex Mex Matzo Brei)
4-6 matzo, broken into large chunks
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno or Serrano, seeded and vein removed, finely diced (optional)
1 glove garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup tomato, finely diced
salt and pepper
salsa and cheese for serving
1. Break up matzo sheets into medium size chunks (bite-sized) and place in bowl. Pour warm water over the top and let them sit until softened.
2. Whisk eggs and milk until well incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.
3. In a large skillet, add 1-2 T of vegetable oil and heat until shimmering. Add onion, jalapeno or Serrano. Saute until softened and the edges of the onion begin to brown.
4. Add garlic and cook until fragrant (usually about a minute.)
5. Drain the matzo very well and add to the pan, stirring to mix with the vegetables, and cook until edges of the matzo start to brown. You may or may not need to add a little more oil. You be the judge.
6. Add the eggs, tomatoes, salt and pepper, stirring to incorporate matzo and vegetables and cook until set but not rubbery.
7. Top with salsa (and I recommend warming salsa before putting it on hot food. Cold salsa + hot food = what would you do that?) and cheese. Serve immediately.