Frybread 101: Yummy Recipes from Four More Tribes
Now that we’ve discussed frybread basics, it’s time to bring your skills to the (lightly floured) board. Here, we offer a selection of recipes to help you do just that.
Each of these variations is based on the basic fry bread formula (see “Frybread 101”), and represents a recipe specific to a tribe or tribal region of the country.
Of course, it goes without saying that everybody’s frybread recipe is the best. So why not try them all? It’s certain you’ll soon have a favorite or two. Just remember, no one ever gets away with sneaking the last piece, for there’s always an incriminating crumb waiting to betray your fry bread infraction!
Creek Fry Bread
Makes 12-15 breads
2 cups flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl. Add milk and more flour as needed to make dough stiff. Roll out onto floured surface and cut into 4x4 inch squares. Cut a small slit in the center of each square. Fry in hot cooking oil until golden brown on both sides. Drain on plate with paper towels.
Navajo Fry Bread
Makes 6-8 breads
3 cups unbleached flour, sifted
½ cup dry powdered milk
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup warm water or milk
2 quarts oil for deep-frying
Combine flour, powdered milk, baking powder, salt and water or milk in a large mixing bowl and knead until smooth and soft but not sticky. Adjust water/milk and flour as needed. Be careful not to overwork the dough, or it will become tough and chewy. Brush a tablespoon of oil over the finished dough and allow it to rest 20 minutes to 2 hours in a bowl covered with a damp cloth.
After the dough has rested, heat the oil in a broad, deep frying pan or kettle until it reaches a low boil. Pull off egg-sized balls of dough and quickly roll, pull, and stretch them into large, plate-sized rounds. They should be thin in the middle and about ¼-inch thick at the edges. Carefully ease each piece of flattened dough into the hot oil one at a time. Using a long-handled cooking fork or tongs, turn the dough one time. Allow about 2 minutes cooking time per side. When golden brown, remove from oil and shake gently to remove bulk of oil, then place on paper towels to finish draining. Serve hot.
Osage Fry Bread
Makes 4-8 breads
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon melted shortening
2 cups warm milk
Shortening for frying
Sift flour, salt, and baking powder into mixing bowl. Stir in shortening and milk. Knead the dough into a ball. Roll out dough on lightly floured board. Cut into diamond shapes and cut a small slit in the center.
Heat shortening in deep-fat fryer to 370 degrees. Fry 2 to 3 pieces at a time until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
Seminole Fry Bread
Makes 4-6 breads
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
Mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add milk, making sure the dough is stiff. Place dough on floured board and pat it out with your hands until 1/2–inch thickness. Cut into strips and cut a small slit in the center of each piece. Fry in hot oil until both sides are golden brown. Serve hot.
Dough preparation tips: Adjust liquid and flour measurements to achieve a smooth dough texture. Do not over-knead the dough, which will result in a tough, chewy bread. “Flour,” “unbleached flour,” and “all-purpose flour” are used interchangeably. For a smoother, more pastry-like dough, sift flour once through a fine sieve. Adjust the size of the breads to your preference and serving plans. For instance, if you’re planning to serve them as appetizers, make smaller breads. Final yield will depend on the size of each bread.
Garnish suggestions: The possibilities are virtually endless when it comes to frybread garnishes. For a main course, top with ground beef, steak, or chicken, cheese, diced onion and tomato, green or red chile or salsa, avocado, sour cream, and finely-chopped cilantro. To tame a sweet tooth, try apple butter/sauce, butter, honey, honey-butter, cinnamon, jam, jelly, fruit preserves, maple or agave syrup, or powdered sugar. How about an Indian sundae? Garnish with vanilla ice cream, chocolate and/or caramel sauce, whipped cream, chopped nuts, and a Maraschino cherry.
Reminders: Use tongs or two forks (or a cooking-glove-covered hand) to very gently place the rolled/ready-to-be-fried dough into the hot oil to prevent splashing. That said, the hotter the oil, the less cooking time required. That equals less fat (and fewer calories and carcinogens) absorbed into the bread, and ensures a light, fluffy interior texture with the requisite crisp, golden-flaky finish. Finally, watch the “smoke factor: “Shimmering” not “smoking” is what you’re after.
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