An old-time favorite from my family’s table to yours
Who doesn’t love old-fashioned Fry Bread, the fluffy golden bed of dough that envelopes all the lusciousness of an Indian Taco? I’m not sure if it is our Native American heritage that has made Fry Bread one of my family’s favorites for generations, but I can tell you that it has been a crucial piece of our gatherings for as long as I can remember. To me, Fry Bread encompasses a feast that celebrates community, and the helping hand we extend to one another during times of need, joy and even sadness. A piece of Fry Bread alone, divvied out to the elders first, with a warm bowl of wosapi, or buffalo stew, has and always will be an amazing comfort food, and a product of our richly diverse region. So as you go forward and try my mother’s delicious recipe, know that every bit of work you put into it will result in a new origination story for your own family — new traditions and morals built from a beautiful blending of cultures. // by Lauren Yarborough Nikolas
– 4 C flour
– 1/2 C powdered sugar
– 1 1/2 T sugar
– 1 t salt
– 1 1/2 T oil
– 2 C lukewarm water (approx.)
– A large deep pan for frying (filled with enough oil that your dough will float)
– Rolling pin
– Wire cooling rack
– Small tongs
– Countertop or hand mixer
– Taco fixings of your choice (if you want to make Indian Tacos)
TO MAKE FRY BREAD…
the distinct foundation of the Indian Taco, I always start by heating my oil right away so that it is the perfect temperature by the time I get to frying. I fill the pan with peanut or canola oil about 3 or 4 inches deep, and heat on medium for about 10 – 15 minutes. You don’t want to rush this process. If your oil is too hot it will burn the outside of the dough, leaving the inside raw.
MIX ALL DRY INGREDIENTS…
in the bowl of a stand mixer, using the bread attachment. Mixing by hand is fine too, you’ll just need more elbow grease! Once everything is shuffled together, slowly add the water and mix away. I usually mix for about a minute or so. Then everything will be well blended. Your dough should be very soft, but not so sticky that you can’t handle it. Turn it out onto a well- floured surface and pinch the dough into balls just bigger than a golf ball. Take into account how wide and deep the pan is that you will be using to fry them in. You don’t want Fry Bread dough too large to fit into the pan! Let your dough balls rest for 5 minutes. Keep in mind that the individual balls will need to be about 1⁄4 inch thick, once flattened with a rolling pin.
BEFORE I START THE FRYING PROCESS…
I like to first make a very small sample bit of dough and place it care- fully into the oil to make sure it is hot enough. The dough might sink for a few seconds but it should simmer and rise to the top like a fried phoenix of golden glory! Now that the oil is ready, I quickly roll out 3 or 4 pieces- whatever your counter space will afford- and cut a small hole in the middle of each. I then very carefully place the pieces one by one into the oil. After a few minutes of frying, you’ll want to flip the bread over, but it is very important that you only flip your Fry Bread one time. I’m not sure why this is, but that’s what my mom’s recipe says, so you’d better just listen to her! Once you remove the lightly-browned bread from the oil, transfer it to a wire rack so the excess oil can drip off and dry. Now repeat 7 more times, and “tada!” You’re all ready to top that Fry Bread with yummy taco fixings and have a feast that’s sure to become your newest family tradition!
A FAMILY TRADITION
Dani Daughtery (Oglala Sioux), has been making authentic Fry Bread as the base for her own delicious Indian Tacos her entire life. She was once asked to prepare hundreds of Fry Breads for a Native American wake. A gentleman in attendance thought the Fry Bread was so delicious he proclaimed he would be willing to marry whoever had made them! Dani recently treated Aberdeen Magazine publishers Troy and Suzette McQuillen to an Indian Taco feast. Pictured here is her version of the “proposal worthy” Fry Bread Indian Taco. As does Lauren, Dani also relies on a tried-and-true family recipe, one handed down by her grandmother. Dani’s Indian Taco toppings include: typical taco-seasoned ground beef, lettuce, sour cream, cheese, salsa, black olives and beans. Instead of refried beans, Dani stews pinto beans in bacon brine for 12 hours. Troy and Suzette left thoroughly satisfied and anxiously awaiting another invite!