Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tacos on Native American Frybread

One of my favorite memories of my hometown are art festivals. There's a huge one in one of the biggest parks in town, and they shut down Mass Street between 18th and 19th street to allow for an avenue of fried foods, sweets, and all varieties of things on a stick. This, of course, is a different kind of culture than what can be found at the art show, but nevertheless an important, and tasty one.

But my favorite art festival was the Native American festival at Haskell Indian Nations University. It was so different from the other shows, and among the beautiful jewelry, paintings, pottery, and performances was another new treat: frybread.

There is not much in this world more delicious to a bread lover than fry bread. Light, airy, delicate, and yet mouth-wateringly delicious, frybread is the ultimate platform for what the fair calls Indian tacos: plentiful taco toppings atop crisp and tender frybread. This recipe is just as easy as any of the other flatbreads I've made so far - with the addition of oil to the pan where it is cooked. Try it - you will be anything but dissapointed.

Indian Tacos

Made 4 pieces of frybread, and topping for at least 4 tacos.
Leftover potential: The frybread should be eaten warm right after it's prepared, but if you make more pieces than you know you'll need, there's a delicious alternative. Sprinkle the hot frybread with cinnamon sugar and drizzle with a little bit of honey.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup warm water, or as needed

oil, as needed for pan frying***

1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
2. Make a well in the center of the mixture, and add the warm butter and water. Mix to combine, the mixture will look like a shaggy mass. Knead the dough until it is smooth, 1-2 minutes.
3. Divide into 4 pieces, and round the dough slightly. Cover with a damp paper towel and let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil for frying.
4. When the dough has rested and the oil is hot, pan fry the frybread (1 piece at a time is easiest) until it is golden brown and slightly puffed up on both sides.
5. Set the finished frybread onto absorbent paper towels to drain slightly.

***I pan fry the dough, rather than deep fry. This requires only just enough oil to cover the item by 1/2 way. For fry bread, that means just enough oil to cover the base of the pan used to cook the bread.

1 tbsp oil
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
salt, as needed
pepper, as needed
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne ***These spices can be replaced with 1 packet of taco seasoning
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp oregano

lettuce, chopped, as needed for garnish
red onion, diced, as needed for garnish
tomatoes, diced, as needed for garnish
fresh jalapenos, sliced and seeded, as needed for garnish
cheese, as needed for garnish
cilantro, as needed for garnish

1. In a large pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute until beginning to become translucent. Add the garlic, and saute until fragrant.
2. Add the meat, and cook until it is browned and cooked through. Add the seasoning, and stir to combine. Remove the finished meat from the heat.
3. Spoon some meat on top of each piece of frybread, and garnish as desired. Eat immediately.

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