When I was a little boy and my parents were pinching pennies I could tell you what we’d be eating for dinner every night of the week. It was the same seven meals every day. Saturday was spaghetti and salad night, Sunday was bean soup and tortillas, Monday was burritos using the beans from the soup on Sunday. Occasionally Sunday nights would be altered and tortillas would be replaced with fry bread. Those were pretty great nights. My mom made her fry bread by buying bread roll dough at the supermarket, stretching it out and then frying it. I’d dip it in the bean soup and use it to sop up the last remnants of the soup. I loved it.
That said I don’t think I’ve eaten it in over 20 years despite thinking about the bread pretty often. Fried bread isn’t the most healthy food item and D never seemed keen on trying it. Last weekend though I finally acted on that thought. I even had a fancy cook book recipe to use!
Navajo Fry Bread
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 tsps salt
- 1 tbsp instant yeast
- 1/4 cup milk (room temperature)
- 1 3/4 cups water (room temperature)
- vegetable oil (for frying)
Combine the flour, salt, and yeast in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the milk and water and beat on medium until well combined.
Line a backing sheet with parchment paper and dust the paper with flour. Librally dust a work surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces and shape each one into a round (you do this by rolling the dough towards you while rotating your hand in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction.) Place the dough balls on the baking sheet, dust with flour, and drape plastic wrap over the rounds. Let sit for 25 to 30 minutes.
Stretch each ball into flat 6-inch disks. Heat 1 inch of vegetable oil in a large, deep skillet to 350° F. I, and the recipe, recommend using cast iron. Place the dough disks into the oil. Cooking as many as you can in your skillet without them touching.
Fry dough disks until golden on each side. Try to only turn them once. I can never do this though as I am impatient and must play with my food while I cook it.Remove the bread from the pan and drain briefly on paper towels before serving warm. You don’t want these things to get cold!
I coated my fry bread with a chili powder concoction (2 parts chili powder, 1 part sugar, 1 part salt, part cumin, 1/2 part coriander, and 1/2 part cayenne) while it was draining on the paper.
Once the bread was done we ate it with a sausage, white bean, and spinach soup. The bread was delicious and worked really well with the soup:
This recipe came from Daniel Leader’s fantastic book, Simply Great Breads. Go buy it!