Friday, January 27, 2012

Pow Wow, Anyone?

Not all bread requires yeast, some use baking powder as a leavener, like "Indian Fry Bread." Fry bread is traditional to Native Americans, originating with the Navajo Indians, and is a staple of southwestern cuisine. Around 1846, early pioneers (along with the U.S. Cavalry), moved west into Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado (the native lands of the Navajo). In 1863, Kit Carson was dispatched to Navajo lands to retrieve a surrender. After no surrender was made, he ordered the burning of the land, forcing the Navajo and the Mescalero Apache Indians to a camp in Bosque Redondo, New Mexico. The camp was overcrowded and supplies limited. Thus, fry bread was born and is still essential at any self-respecting Pow wow.

Fry bread can be topped with honey and sugar, or topped with traditional taco fare, to make "Indian Tacos" (the state dish of Arizona). I like to top mine with shredded Picante Pot Roast, lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, salsa or hot sauce, and sour cream. A small bowl of Frijoles Borrachos on the side would be nice, too! Delicious! Indian fry bread is fantastic, historic, and definitely worth trying!

Indian Fry Bread

Makes 8


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon powdered milk
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening or lard
3/4 cup cold water
2 cups canola oil, for frying


Combine the flour, baking powder, powdered milk, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture is crumbly. Add the water and mix until the dough comes together. Dust the top with flour, cover with a kitchen towel, and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Heat the oil in a large high-sided pan until it reaches 350 degrees (or until a small piece of dough dropped in begins to fry). On a floured surface, divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll out each piece into a 4-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Fry the bread in batches until golden brown on both sides, 3-4 minutes. Remove to a baking sheet lined with paper towels or to a cooling rack with paper towels underneath. The fry bread can be held warm in a 200 degree oven for up to an hour, or refrigerated and reheated for 10-15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

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