Of all the foods most commonly associated with Native American culture, frybread has long been at the center of the table. From one end of the continent to the other, from region to region and tribe to tribe, there are hundreds of recipe variations on the tempting and tasty treat.
Whether inspired by ingredients found close to home or by those from locales a bit more exotic, each of our gourmet variations on frybread bring a creative alternative to the classic treat, and can be down-sized for snacks or appetizers.
2 pounds ground elk meat
2 tablespoons rendered duck fat (may substitute grapeseed, olive, or sunflower seed oil)
2 tablespoons red chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup endive leaves, rinsed, patted dry, ends trimmed
½ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
¼ cup diced scallion
½ cup grated provolone cheese
¼ cup pine nuts, whole or coarsely chopped
½ tablespoon sliced or diced habanero or serrano pepper
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In a large skillet, heat duck fat to melting, or add oil of choice. Heat on medium-high heat for several minutes. Add meat and sauté until brown. Add chili powder, salt and pepper. Mix well, and break up any big clumps of meat.
Spoon meat mixture onto prepared fry breads. In order given, add equal portions of garnishes to each fry.
Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
4 quail, fresh or frozen and thawed
1 tablespoon sunflower seed oil
4 strips bacon
¼ teaspoon ground sage
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup tomatillos, quartered
¼ cup sliced green onions, including stalks, rinsed, trimmed, and patted dry
½ cup sunflower sprouts
½ cup grated smoked gouda
Bacon from pan, crumbled or coarsely chopped
¼ cup sunflower seeds, raw or toasted
In large skillet, add oil and quail. Roll quail in pan to coat evenly with oil. Place bacon strips along sides of quail and cook over medium heat, turning quail after three to four minutes. Increase heat to medium-high/high, and continue cooking quail just long enough to brown, about one to two minutes on each side. Remove from heat, place on paper or cloth towels to allow excess oil to drain. Continue cooking bacon until brown and crisp, then remove from heat and drain on towels. When cool enough, remove meat from quail in long, downward, stripping motions. Spoon onto prepared fry breads. In order given, add equal portions of garnishes to each frybread. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
Don’t use too-hot or too-cold water. Either can cause the dough to be too sticky.
Don’t over-knead dough. Over-working causes the gluten to break down and results in tough, chewy bread.
Don’t under- or over-heat oil. Oil that is not hot enough will not allow the dough to achieve a crisp, golden texture and the bread will be soggy and doughy; oil that is too hot will smoke and burn and result in bread that is overdone outside and undercooked inside.
Ideal temperature for fry bread oil is 375 degrees.
Always place the dough into the hot oil gently to prevent splashing.
Basic Frybread Recipe
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup hot water
Oil for deep-fat frying
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly stir in water to form a soft dough. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Divide dough into quarters. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a three-inch circle.
Heat one inch of oil on medium-high until very hot, but not smoking. (Test oil by placing a very small piece of dough in the pan—when it sizzles immediately, it’s ready.) Fry dough rounds in hot oil for two to three minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately, or wrap in foil and store in air-tight container for up to two days. Makes 4 servings.