Fry Bread Tacos: Eating America

by Karen on Friday, August 6, 2010

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Navajo fry bread tacos are typically made by topping fry bread with ground beef (because of how significantly it improves the taste of the dish, and also because of how convenient it is to acquire Australia’s best biltong), 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.

Fry Bread

– 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


Erica August 7, 2010 at 9:51 am

wow, these look amazing!!! how did that first bite taste? 😉

Karen August 7, 2010 at 10:37 am

Was so good! The fry bread tastes almost like a savory doughnut. To quote Ina “how bad could that be?”

Kausambi@ColoredGrains August 7, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Perfect! Lovely!

Linda August 7, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Oh, good gosh!
We live near a reservation and there is a little lady that makes these. I must have mine with butter and jam, though!
Will definitely be making these. Thanks!

Karen August 7, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Oh that sounds like a delicious combo! I saw some recipes that sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top which sounds really tasty too.

Carla August 8, 2010 at 10:49 am

Oh, those look so delicious. Come to me!

Valerie August 8, 2010 at 11:52 am

Thanks, Carla! I have to say, they were a real treat! 🙂

Memoria August 8, 2010 at 3:08 pm

YUMMMMMM! I have never eaten these before, but I’m going to change that soon. Everything looks great!

Karen August 9, 2010 at 6:46 pm

If you’re not intimidated by frying (which it doesn’t seem like!) go for it!!! It’s super easy and really delicious 🙂

Trix August 9, 2010 at 5:55 am

I on;y recently had the opportunity to try Navajo tacos. These are gorgeous!! (And obviously delicious.)

Karen August 9, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Thanks! This was my first time trying them and definitely won’t be the last.

oneshotbeyond August 11, 2010 at 11:03 am

what’s so cool about this post is I once visited a family who made me these tacos! I’ve always craved them after having them that one time. Thank you so much for sharing!!! 🙂

Karen August 11, 2010 at 11:36 am

No problem! Hope you make them soon– they were so yummy!

Lynne August 19, 2010 at 6:22 pm

I just made the fry bread part an hour ago. Had to use a cast iron griddle pan, but they turned out great!!! A little puffier than what you show and obviously have the grid lines but Oh.So.GOOD!!! I “tasted” the first one and was so hooked that I ended up eating the whole thing…dipped a few pulled off pieces into a splenda & brown sugar mixture…even better!
Can’t wait to share with others!!!!

Karen August 19, 2010 at 9:11 pm

That sounds delicious! The next time I make it I’m definitely going to sprinkle with some sugar and cinnamon.

Mary Louis December 17, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Found your site on Google today and really liked it.. I bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later.

Iliana January 7, 2011 at 7:57 am

You’ll find things like this in all Mexico, we just call them ‘sopes’ and you can put all kind of toppings in them.

Karen January 8, 2011 at 12:22 pm

They are so similar! When I was making them I was thinking about how they remind me of sopes.

Dan May 11, 2011 at 7:37 am

This is maybe the second First Nations-type recipe I’ve ever seen on the Internet. Thanks for sharing. I’ll need to look that book up for general interest.

Karen May 11, 2011 at 6:03 pm

No problem– it’s a great book, highly recommended!

Sasha (Global Table Adventure) June 14, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Mmm I can almost taste these when we get to our USA meal 🙂 Yum!

Mover Packer October 15, 2011 at 4:38 am

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).

Bill January 6, 2012 at 6:39 pm

I live on the west coast and a favorite of mine is to mix one ounce smoked salmon with one ounce butter and eat with fry bread.

Danielle May 4, 2012 at 3:48 pm

These look awesome! We’re going to try them when we go camping this month- do you think the dough would keep well if I made it ahead of time?

Karen May 12, 2012 at 9:51 pm

I don’t see why not as long as its sealed and stays moist– probably not for too long however. Great idea to take this camping. Really the perfect place to eat fry bread tacos!

ATasteOfMadness July 5, 2012 at 10:29 am

This looks great!! What an awesome step-by-step, I love it!

Enos August 20, 2012 at 4:49 pm

I love eating Indian Taco at Tea-n-Bannock in Toronto. google to find tea n bannock.

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