Navajo fry bread tacos are typically made by topping fry bread with ground beef, shredded lettuce and cheddar cheese. In this recipe I’ve topped fry bread with Sonoran-style shredded beef, shredded cabbage, cheddar cheese and a simple tomato salsa, which is a little atypical but all components are prepared traditionally (Sonora is a northwestern state in Mexico and shares its border with Arizona and New Mexico, parts of which belong to the Navajo Nation).
I’ve adapted the recipe I found in the book, Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions. Check it out if you’re looking for some great recipes and a very interesting read.
- 3 cups of all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tablespoon of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cup of warm water
- corn, vegetable or canola oil for frying
In a bowl or on a clean work surface combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour the warm water into the center. With your hands or a wooden spoon, start working the mixture together. Sprinkle flour on a clean work surface and turn the dough out and knead lightly. The dough should be soft and moist but shouldn’t stick to your hands. Add a little flour or water as you go until you reach the correct consistency. Roll the dough into a log about 3 inches wide. Let the dough rest under a clean kitchen towel for 10 minutes.
Cut into 6-8 pieces depending on how large you want your fry bread. Take each piece of dough and roll it into a ball. Using a rolling pin and more dusting flour, roll the dough into a flat round disk, about 1/5 inch thick. Stack your flat dough on top of one another, dusting flour between each piece.
In a cast iron skillet or any heavy bottomed pot/pan, pour an inch of frying oil in and heat over medium high heat. To test when the oil is hot enough, tear off a tiny piece of dough and toss it into the oil. It should immediately float and be bubbling all around the sides. One by one, fry the dough for about 2 minutes on each side or until it is golden crispy. Place the finished fry bread on a place lined with paper towels to drain.
Sonoran-Style Shredded Beef
- 1 lb of beef brisket or chuck, cut into big chunks about 3-4 inches
- 1/2 white onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups of beef stock
- 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1 1/4 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- kosher salt
Put the meat, onions, garlic, bay leaf, salt and beef stock into a medium sized pot. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer. Cover the pot and simmer for about 1 hour or until the meat starts to easily pull apart with a fork. Take the pieces of meat out and using two forks shred the meat and reserve the stock.
In a cast iron skillet or other heavy bottom pot/pan, combine the pepper, paprika, and oregano and turn the heat on medium high and toast the spices for about 5 minutes or until they become fragrant. Add the beef, tomatoes and a couple ladles of the reserved stock. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until the tomatoes have broken down, about 10 minutes. Taste the beef and add salt if it needs more.
Simple Tomato Salsa
I’ve made this salsa with heirloom tomatoes but any fleshy tomato will do– they looked so good I couldn’t resist using them!
- 5 vine ripened tomatoes, diced
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 serrano chili, seeded and minced
- pinch of kosher salt
Combine the tomatoes, green onions and serrano in a small mixing bowl and salt to taste.
To Put the Whole Thing Together…
Pile some beef on the fry bread, then top with a small handful of shredded lettuce, a bit of shredded cheese, and finally a small scoop of the tomato salsa. Then dig in and enjoy this perfect American summertime meal!
(Recipe adapted from Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions