Saturday, March 21, 2009

How to make Fry Bread (aka Navajo Tacos)

A reader commented on my weekly menu plan from this past week asking for more information about how we make fry bread (also known as Navajo Tacos). I thought I'd share the details as a post in case anyone else was wondering how to make fry bread. I was surprised to recently discover that my family is in the minority in having fry bread in our home. Most people tend to see it as an item they purchase at fairs or other venues. But, once you try your own and realize how easy and yummy they can be, I bet they will be added to your family's meal plans too! I have tried to be detailed in my descriptions below and I hope the information helps someone else. I will do my best to post photos soon of the process as well.

First, I typically make fry bread a few days after we have chili for dinner. I make a double batch of chili to ensure leftovers. :) This takes a big step out of the fry bread preparation because chili works great as a meat and bean topping on the cooked bread.

I use a fry bread dough recipe and mix it up per recipe instructions. We used this recipe recently when we had a large family gathering and needed a lot of dough. It worked out well because you did not have to wait for the dough to rise before shaping and cooking. This made it easy to mix up additional batches for more servings or for dessert (a bit more on that in a minute). When dinner time is a busy time, it is also nice to be able to mix up the dough and keep moving forward, rather than having to stall a half hour to allow rising time.

Once your dough is ready, preheat oil in a nonstick pan on stove, or use your deep fryer to heat oil. Start with balls of dough about the size of a golf ball and roll as thin as you can with a rolling pin. The dough will puff up once it hits the hot oil and you want a thin piece of dough to be able to get the entire piece cooked through without burning.

When oil is hot (test by dropping one or two small beads of water into the oil and see if it sizzles), drop your first piece of dough into the oil. Watch it, allowing time to cook on the first side. Once it is browned, flip it over and allow second side time to brown as well. When second side is brown, remove from oil and allow to drain on paper towels while you cook the remainder of your dough. Now is the time to assess how the first one cooked - did you roll your dough out thin enough or too thin? Did the piece of dough fit in the pan you are using or could it be a bigger or smaller circle and fit better? (you can adjust the size of your ball of dough bigger or smaller than the golf ball based on the first one's results) Did you cook long enough on each side? With these factors in mind, you can make small adjustments in the size and thickness of your bread as you finish frying the remainder of your dough.

Fry the remainder of your dough, placing each piece of cooked bread on paper towels to drain excess oil. When you are finished, serve each piece of bread with your choice of toppings. We typically put on the reheated chili (meat and beans), sprinkle with shredded cheese, then chopped lettuce and tomatoes, some sour cream and salsa. You can tailor the toppings to suit your family's tastes and this is a great time to set out individual bowls with all the toppings and allow the whole family to pile on their favorites.

Some people prefer shredded beef and cooked beans on their fry bread instead of chili. This option would be an easy way to use leftover roast beef. You can simply reheat canned chili beans or pinto beans for the bean portion with this option. (or, if you have time, cook your own dry beans)

Another hint we have found is that it is much easier to eat if we tear up the bread into bite sized pieces on our plates BEFORE adding all the toppings. When intact, the bread is a large round that you can lift and eat, but which is very hard to cut with a fork. With younger kids, we have found it is easier at the table to break the bread into bite sized pieces and then pile on their toppings. Then, they can easily (and more neatly) eat it with a fork. And, there is less chance of all of their toppings being wasted too.

If you have leftover pieces of bread already fried, a great dessert option is to drizzle with honey and add either sprinkled powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar. My children look forward to their honey bread more than their Navajo taco version in most cases! With the no-rise dough recipe, it is also an easy way to fry half of your dough for dinner and then leave the remaining dough for dessert. After dinner has been completed, fry up the remaining dough for warm bread with honey and sugar topping.

We missed our fry bread in this week's meal rotation but may have to make some soon to compensate as typing up our tips and how-to has made me hungry for it myself! :) I hope someone finds this information helpful. I'd love to hear how your recipe turns out when you try your own at-home fry bread! Please share your results. :)

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