September 1, 2015

Fry Bread

From these humble beginnings, food was haphazardly made
Fry bread, at least in North America, was invented by the Navajo in the mid 19th century. They made it from the flour and whatnot that the US government gave them when it forced them to relocate far away from their traditional homes. Which is sad, and relevant, and touching. And is at least 10% of why I love this dish. The other 90% being a roughly even split of it being food I can drunkenly make at 3 AM, and random spite against traditional bourgeoisie bread, lording its fluffiness over the rest of us.


2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 cup Hot Water
An unspecified amount of Vegetable Oil
2 tsp Baking Powder
3/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Ground Thyme

The first thing you're gonna need to do is get ready to use your hands. The Navajo made this on the go, and I'm betting they didn't have rolling pins, or other kitchen gadgetry. Technically they didn't have baking powder either, and they used wood ash to make a lighter cake. Since I didn't want the fire department coming to my place (Again), I replaced it with Baking Powder. Get over it. Take a large bowl, and mix together your Flour, Baking Powder, Salt, and Thyme. Now it's time to take your hands from wherever it is you left them, and coat them with some of your Vegetable Oil. Why? Because if you don't, the next step will leave you with a giant mass of dough stuck to your hand. Which, unless you're planning on frying your hand, means you won't be able to eat it. So now that you're greased up, take your hot water, which you've heated in one of the traditional Navajo methods of microwaving, heating up on a cooktop, or turning on the tap marked H on your sink. Whatever method of water heating you chose, add it in slowly. You may not end up using all of it. The idea is for the dough to just barely come together into a cohesive lump of goodness. Cover this mix with a towel, and let it rise for about 30 minutes. If, like me, your baking powder is so old that you're relying on chicanery to see if it's still good, your dough may not rise all that much, but whatever you get will be worth the wait.

They're so good that you barely miss the wood ash at all
Once your dough has rested up for the big game, fill pan with about an inch of oil, and heat it up over medium heat. If you're using a fry/candy thermometer, you want to get it to the 350 degree area. Also, you're an embarrassment to the spirit of this dish, with your fancy superfluous kitchen gadgetry which I've totally never used, or recommended the use of on this very blog. Take your dough and tear off a small chunk. Roll it into a ball, and then start stretching it out into a disc. This sounds like a lot of esoteric nonsense, but just think of it like a little pizza, and you'll be fine. Probably. Take your dough disc and lay it into your oil. Fry it for about 4 minutes on each side, until it's golden delicious and super awesome. Drain it on a plate loaded up with authentic Navajo paper towels (I'm not an authority, but I think using inauthentic paper towels makes you racist), and that's it! Delicious food, made from almost nothing. I made it, and I'm still not 100% sure how that happened. And these things are super versatile. You can go all traditional, and top them with honey, or you can throw some herb butter on there, or you can even go crazy and add ground beef, cheese, and lettuce to make what they call Navajo Tacos. Or you can just finish them off with some salt and eat them plain. Which I may-or-may not have done to this entire batch despite grand plans for tacos.

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