Fry bread recipes are numerous as the stars. There are many ways to make it and strong opinions to match. This writer has seriously considered codifying them into a list sorted by tribal groups and main ingredients. Perhaps they would all be numbered like the works of composers, artists and other creative productive persons. Imagine the fun of arguing over whether FB4 is superior in texture to FB7 or soggier than FB14 or that FB32 goes best with stews while FB50 wears a coating of powdered sugar far better than other breads. Such a book may not make the top of the Native American Culinary charts but it would provide endless hours of conversational humor--Indian style!
Basically, fry bread is flour with some type of a binder such as water, milk, egg or pumpkin and fried in deep, moderately hot grease. If the grease is too hot, the bread is doughy inside and burned outside; if a cool grease is used, it will surely produce bread that is raw within although it may appear find to the eye. Even the temperatures and types of frying utensils and greases are subject to heated debates among the many women who maintain traditional camp house kitchens. Our local favorite is pumpkin fry bread. Neighborhood kids can tell you for a fact that chocolate fry bread just doesn't cut it no matter how one cooks it ! Whether served alone, reheated in the "ol' microwave nuker," sopped in gravy, soups or stews, or garnished with powdered sugar, honey or mayhaw jelly, fry bread is not only good tasting and bad for your cholesterol but almost a national passion wherever native peoples gather, gab, drink strong black "kafē" and eat and eat and eat.
A Modest Recipe (FB3)
2 cups self-rising white flour
1/2-cup warm (not hot) water in a deep cup
1 medium egg [fresh is best if your hen doesn't mind]
32 ounces oil or grease
(Yes, they argue over the ingredient brands, too!)
Begin heating the oil. About 400 degrees is a good starting point.
It if smokes, its too hot.
First, put 1 and 1/2 cups of flour in a good mixing bowl. A thick-
sided crockery bowl works very well and maintains an even
temperature during preparation.
Next, scatter remaining 1/2 cup of flour on a clean wax paper.
Doesn't hurt to leave flour sack open nearby, just in case...
Break egg into water and mix well with a fork or whisk.
Make a shallow well in the center of the flour bowl and pour in the egg-water. With clean fingers or a fork, work the mixture into dough. Some insist on fingers and some on forks. Every step of fry bread making is an arguable point. Some let the dough rest and others fry it immediately-- your choice --experience will tell. Some say knead the dough in your hands as you partial it out; others will tell you such action ruins the dough and toughens it.
Drop a small marble size bit of dough in the heated grease. It will cook in a matter of seconds if the grease is hot enough. This stuff cooks quickly--very quickly; pay close attention to it. Your dough should be divided evenly into about eight lumps; flatten slightly, especially in the center or cut it if the eye is no good at portions.
Frying too many pieces at once cools the grease. Let's not do that. When the
piece is golden brown, turn over once--once only. There is a well-known Cufē
story about a lousy, anxious fry bread cook. Avoid that example and your family
will live long and well. When the second side is also golden brown, place the fry
bread in a warmed, deep bowl lined with good absorbent paper towel to soak up
the excess grease. There is no such thing as light fry bread!
Left-over frybread will store nicely in the fridge; come to think of it, you
can make the dough the evening before and allow it to warm before cooking. Wrap
left-over bread in a damp paper towel and microwave for a few seconds--doesn't
take long. Or, use the old 1950s trick of placing it in a brown paper sack with
a few drops of water and put it in an oven preheated to about 400 degrees. Too
much frybread is a culinary disaster for diabetics and those with high counts
cholesterol in their blood. Eat responsibly, conservatively . . .
Moriah's Quick Frybread
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cup butter milk
1 tsp baking soda -- don't overdo!
Deep pan of shortening -- hot but not smoking
Mix it up as if biscuits were on your mind. When the larder is doing poorly, water may used instead of buttermilk but you will need to use a tablespoon of baking powder in place of the soda. Too much soda, if you don't already know, will turn your bread yellow in color and salty in taste; your dog won't eat it, either.
Grab a biscuit size blob of dough and flatten it out in floured hands. Work it with both hands and use the thumbs to thin out the center so the bread cooks more evening and quickly. Deep fry in some politically incorrect lard or shortening for the best taste; use standard cooking oil if you are health conscious. Turn the bread once when golden brown. Take it out when the other side is golden, too.
Place on paper towels to drain off the grease and serve with a good meal or proceed to make Indian Tacos or Indian meat pies with your freshly done frybread.