Barbecue Navajo Tacos (Indian Fry Bread)

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Introduction: Barbecue Navajo Tacos (Indian Fry Bread)

About: I'm a chef who runs a food blog called The Frayed Apron. Come check out what I'm cooking!

As an Arizona native, I've grown up eating and loving the navajo taco.
Voted the state dish in 1995, I guess everybody loves this fried delicious dough. I was inspired to try adding barbecued pork with toasted chilis because of my love of smoky, spicy flavors. This frybread is the real deal - made simply with baking powder, flour, salt, and water and smothered in chili con carne! While I make this with pork country ribs - you could also try it with barbecued beef.

Supplies:


4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tbsp baking powder

1 1/2 cups warm water vegetable oil for frying Navajo Tacos

1 pound pork, such as country ribs (no bone)

3 New Mexico chili peppers

2 cups refried beans

4 oz cotija or cheddar cheese, shredded

1 head ice-burg lettuce, thinly sliced

1 tomato, diced

2 tbsp sour cream

Step 1: Prepare the Fire

Fire up the offset smoker or barbecue using briquettes or oak hardwood. Allow the wood to smolder for at least 20 minutes.

Add a water bath (use a throw away tine foil tray) near the fire to keep the atmosphere moist. You want the internal temperature of the smoker to be 275 °F throughout the cook.

Step 2: Barbecuing the Pork

Apply salt and pepper to both sides of the pork, using double the amount of pepper to salt. Place the pork on the barbecue. Total Cook Time is 6 hours minimum (low and slow) until tender.

Timing the Cook (6 hour breakdown schedule) aka 3-2-1 ribs:

  1. 3 hours, then flip
  2. 2 hours (spritz with water, apple juice, or apple cider vinegar)
  3. last hour (submerge the pork in chile sauce and transfer to the oven)

*Remember to keep the fire going at a constant temperature throughout the cook. Set the oven temperature to 275 °F.

Step 3: Make the Chili Sauce

During the barbecue process, I like to make the chili sauce. Remove the seeds from 3 New Mexico chili peppers and toast them dry in a skillet for 10-30 seconds. You want to release the aroma a bit.

Toast 3 New Mexico red chili peppers in a hot skillet for 10 seconds. Blend with 2 cups water, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1 minced clove garlic.
Pour the sauce into a baking dish. Add the barbecued pork and warm in the oven (275 degrees F) for 1 hour (or longer if you want a softer texture).

Step 4: Frybread

Frybread Ingredients
4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tbsp baking powder

1 1/2 cups warm water

vegetable oil for frying

Frybread Instructions

Add flour, salt, and baking powder to a medium bowl. Stir to combine. Now add the water, a bit at a time while stirring. Gather into a dough with your hands, squeezing a bit to disperse the flour. Place a slightly damp cloth or plastic wrap over the bowl. Rest for 1-2 hours.

Divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Flour a work surface and roll until 1/4" thick (or shape with your hands). Keep the dough covered to prevent if from drying out. Pour vegetable oil into a skillet so that the depth is about 1 1/2".

Warm over medium heat. Tear off a tiny piece of dough to test the temperature. It's ready when the dough bubbles right away (350°F). Gently lay a piece of dough in the hot oil and rotate it with tongs when it's golden and puffy. Cook the other side for a couple minutes, just until golden brown. Set on a tray lined with paper towels to drain excess oil.

Step 5: Navajo Tacos

Navajo Taco: Top with any of these or all of them…
beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato, salsa, sour cream

Last but not least, shred the chili con carne (barbecued pork) with the chile sauce. Top the taco with the meat and get ready to be in barbecue heaven!

*This recipe was developed and shared by The Frayed Apron, a food blog about flavor layering, cooking techniques, and a love of all things grilled, smoked, and barbecued. Stop by and say hi or find me @thefrayedapron on Instagram.

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    12 Discussions

    1
    sabu.dawdy
    sabu.dawdy

    1 year ago

    I amuse fry bread is bhatura of Indian origin. :)

    0
    Toby1600
    Toby1600

    Reply 1 year ago

    Every tribe in the U.S. has a version of this. It usually has powdered milk and no salt in the recipe and should be cooked in crisco shortening. It's a result of being removed from their hunting grounds to reservations, and supplemented with commodities that they had never used before. What they came up with is delicious and fattening. Often, the dough is cooked over a fire or on a grill resulting in a thick tortilla.

    0
    TheFrayedApron
    TheFrayedApron

    Reply 9 months ago

    I've heard of the crisco shortening idea or lard. I'm not familiar with powdered milk and no salt...interesting though because it would yield a softer dough.

    0
    TheFrayedApron
    TheFrayedApron

    Reply 9 months ago

    Yes, bhatura is similar in that it's a fried bread, but it gets much puffier. The Native American version is denser.

    0
    gusmom
    gusmom

    1 year ago

    When I was a teenager I worked with a Navajo Indian woman who made fry bread for us occasionally. Your recipe sounds very similar to hers, but one thing I distinctly recall her saying (because it made me laugh) was to "knead the hell out of it". Your recipe doesn't call for kneading at all and I know over-handling can make some dough tough. Any thoughts on this? Thank you for a great instructable!

    0
    TheFrayedApron
    TheFrayedApron

    Reply 9 months ago

    Oh, thank you for sharing this story! It's possible that she kneaded the dough and then let the gluten relax afterward during a proofing phase (especially if she didn't have yeast or baking powder)? The reason my recipe doesn't call for kneading is because it uses a chemical leavening agent (baking powder) to create gas and rise (think soft and puffy). With non-yeasted breads, you don't have to knead the hell out of it (ha!). So, YES, you are correct that kneading results in more chew due to gluten development, but that can be overcome with a proofing phase. I suppose it's personal preference. You may like a chewier frybread, and that's A-ok!

    0
    Toby1600
    Toby1600

    1 year ago

    Great idea. I'll probably try it on drybread

    0
    TheFrayedApron
    TheFrayedApron

    Reply 9 months ago

    Sure thing. The sauce and meat are good enough to be served with any sort of bread.

    0
    TheFrayedApron
    TheFrayedApron

    Reply 1 year ago

    That would be delicious. Any bread that can sop up some of the juices is ideal!

    1
    billbillt
    billbillt

    1 year ago

    Yum!!............

    1
    jessyratfink
    jessyratfink

    1 year ago

    That sounds and looks so good :D

    0
    TheFrayedApron
    TheFrayedApron

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks! It's such a flavorful dish. Truely amazing.