The time comes when all birds must leave the nest and fly on their own. When I graduated college and started looking for a job, I decided that the farther I could soar from my hometown the better. Sound familiar? Be it a need for actual physical distance or merely emotional distance, I’m willing to bet that at one point in our lives we could all relate to that new found feeling of independence pulling us as far away as possible from where it all began. As for myself, I wanted nothing more than to show all those around me that I had what it took to make it on my own.
That ever growing need for independence eventually landed me in Phoenix, AZ. It was far from my childhood stomping grounds, completely different in every possible way from Wisconsin, and I had a cushion in the fact that my grandparents were living there in case I ever needed a familiar hand.
I went there to get away, but over the course of the time I was there, I found myself thoroughly appreciating the culture, beauty and heritage of my new home in the southwest. Indian folklore is particularly strong in this area where active Hopi and Navajo tribes make their homes and still live on designated tribal lands. The stories and history of the Indians are reflected throughout the southwest culture in everything from the street names, to the exquisite jewelry, to the architecture.
One memory that burns particularly bright in my mind was the first time I was introduced to Navajo Fry Bread. While not difficult to make, it lends a certain authenticity to a southwest meal that causes you to reflect on the first people to live on this land, long before we took it over and forever changed it from it’s original state. I made this version with sausage as it’s what I had in my freezer at the time, but you can just as easily substitute ground turkey, beef, or cubed chicken in it’s place.
To put together your own southwest feast, you’ll start out by putting together the ingredients for the fry bread. Combine together some flour, milk, baking powder and salt and mix it up until just combined. Don’t mix too much, just enough to get it good and incorporated. Let it rest for about ten minutes.
While the dough is resting we’ll cook up the sausage topper. Grab up a fry pan and cook your meat of choice on medium high heat for a minute or two to get it started and then add in a little garlic, onion, and cilantro.
Let the mixture finish cooking up and then turn the heat down to medium and add in a few southwest spices to get the juices flowin’.
Last up, you can add in a big ol’ spoonful of tomato paste and a little water to make the meat a bit saucy.
Now it’s time to finish up the fry bread. Rip off a piece from your dough ball and flatten it out nice and thin.
Heat up a couple cups of peanut or canola oil on medium high heat until good and steamy and then drop in your flattened bread dough.
Cook it on each side for about a minute or until golden brown and puffy. Tell me that isn’t a thing of beauty.
Finish it off by grabbing a piece of your bread, topping it with a bit of the meat mixture, and then adding any additional toppings that suit your fancy. We used tomatoes, spinach, cheese, salsa, sour cream and guacamole.
And just like that it’s time to sit back and appreciate a bite of southwest Indian culture right from the comfort of your own four walls.
Before I sign off, I wanted to announce that the winner of the Mommie Cooks apron is comment number 27, Michelle T! Congratulations to Michelle and thank you all so much for the heartfelt comments. Mommie Cooks readers rock!
Navajo Fry Bread
For the Fry Bread:
2 Cups Flour
3/4 Cup Milk
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
For the Meat:
1 Pd Sausage (Can sub ground pork, turkey, or beef)
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Bunch Cilantro, Chopped
1/2 Onion, Chopped
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Corriander
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Oregano
1 Tbsp Water
1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
Oil for frying
For the fry bread dough, mix together all the listed ingredients; the flour, milk, baking powder, and salt.
Allow the bread to rest for at least 10 minutes.
While the dough is resting, grab a frying pan and start cooking up the meat for a minute or two.
Add to the meat the garlic, cilantro, and onion.
Cook the meat all the way through and then add in the cumin, chili powder, and oregano
Mix it up well and then add in the water and tomato paste
Stir it all together and turn the heat down to low to keep warm
Grab a clean frying pan and pour enough oil in the bottom to create about a 1" depth of oil. Turn the heat on medium high and allow it to heat up.
While the oil is heating, take your rested dough ball, rip of a chunk and roll it out thin with a rolling pin.
Drop the rolled bread into the hot oil and allow it to cook up for about a minute on each side or until gold brown.
Serve meat on top of bread along with additional desired toppings.