Add to My MSN

Indian Tacos Are My Favorite Indulgence

4/21/2014 9:27:00 AM

Tags: Tacos, Indian, Mexican, Food, Homemade, Cooking, Fry Bread, Renne-Lucie Benoit

Renee-Lucie BenoitI first heard about Indian Tacos while driving up through the Owens Valley of California one hot windy day. The eastern flank of the Sierra Nevada was on one side and the western flank of the White Mountains was on the other. We were traveling north on our way from Walt’s Point back to Bishop. In Lone Pine or thereabouts, I spied a vendor on the side of CA395. The sign – in handwritten letters – said “Indian Tacos.” What was that I wondered and immediately my interest was piqued. I like Mexican food in every shape, way or form. But Indian Tacos? I had never heard of those.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try them that day. My companions in the truck were too "destinated" on the next hang glider launch site. So I wondered and pined after Indian Tacos for years until I found a cookbook called Real American Food by Jane and Michael Stern. There, on Page 296, was a recipe for “The Ultimate Navajo Taco.” Not knowing anything and never having tried anything like this before, I was nevertheless too enthused to worry about making a mistake so I immediately set about making them.

Since then I have had Indian Tacos many times and in a lot of places. Not often. They’re impossibly caloric so you save them for special occasions when you’ve been good and exercised a little prior-calorie stinginess. They’re just like a regular taco in every way except one. What makes them special is FRY BREAD. Instead of the customary tortilla, fry bread is the base.

Now fry bread – to me – is an art and a science. In some ways a commercial vendor has a leg up on the average person. They have the large, temperature controlled fry vats. The average family can’t duplicate this. However, if you get yourself a good cooking thermometer, buy the right kind of oil and have a deep kettle you can do it, too. Native Americans traditionally make the fry bread over an open fire. It’s really not rocket science so don’t sweat it.

The secret to fry bread is making it fresh and hot every time. Cold fry bread is not nice.

Here is my favorite recipe from the Real American Food cookbook. I’ve used it many times over the years, and this version is tweaked a bit to make it more user friendly. Writer’s Note: this is not my image. I was too busy eating and forgot to take my own photograph! But it looks like a taco I would have made!

taco

Photo: courtesy of eiteljorg.org

Gila River Fry Bread for Indian Tacos

Yields 6 small fry breads or 3 large.

2  1/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons lard or solid vegetable shortening, divided

About 3/4 cup warm water

Fat for frying. (Use a fat that has a high smoking point.)

Mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in 1 tablespoon lard. Melt and cool remaining 2 tablespoons lard and set aside. Add just enough water to flour mixture so dough holds together and can be handled easily. Knead on a lightly floured board until smooth, about 30 seconds, adding only enough flour to work dough.

Form dough into smooth balls. Two-inch balls make a small one. Use larger amounts to make the size you want. This is where you can experiment around. Brush each ball with cooled lard and let stand 45 minutes. You can be getting your toppings ready while they’re sitting.

In a deep skillet or kettle, heat your fat to 360 degrees F.

On a lightly floured surface, with the heel of your hand, flatten each ball of dough out into a round circle about 6 inches in diameter. Dough should be pretty thin. Maybe about 1/4 of an inch thick. If you’re using a bigger ball make the flattened disk larger.

Ease into deep fat. Dough will bob to surface. Cook until dough is light brown, a mere 45 to 60 seconds, turn, and cook the other side 45 to 60 seconds. Remove from fat immediately and drain on paper towels.

Toppings:

Layer refried beans or whole beans, then taco-flavored cooked ground beef, then chopped tomatoes, chopped iceberg lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese and finally a dollop of sour cream on top. You can also add chopped jalapeno, chopped red or sweet onion, chopped black olives, chopped green onion, or chopped avocado. You can also trade the taco-seasoned cooked ground beef with chili. The chili can be chili with beans or straight meat chili. If you use chili with beans, then omit the refried beans. Use your imagination!

Then go out and chop wood!



Related Content

Chicken Tacos With Cucumber Salsa Recipe

Chicken filling topped with a cool salsa make these tacos unique. 

Curious Comfort

A paragraph or two on what different people consider comfort foods.

A Pip of a Name

Discovering a new word to me in a old book has led to rambling thoughts about food and reading.

Fish Tacos Recipe

A new and nutritious twist on traditional tacos. 

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 



Subscribe today
First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
 

Want to rediscover what made grandma’s house the fun place we all remember? Capper’s Farmer — the newly restored publication from the rural know-how experts at Grit.com — updates the tried-and-true methods your grandparents used for cooking, crafting, gardening and so much more. Subscribe today and discover the joys of homemade living and homesteading insight — with a dash of modern living — that makes up the new Capper’s Farmer.

Save Even More Money with our automatic renewal savings plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Capper's Farmer for only $19.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and I'll pay just $19.95 for a one year subscription!