Sunday, March 16, 2008

The IFB- Indian Fry Bread

Many of you know it as elephant ears, or as fried dough, depending on your location in the country. Being from the southwest, I know it as Indian Fry Bread, a delectable dough that has both sweet and savory applications. At fairs and events you can forget the pizza and bratwurst, the long line is the one extending from the small booth where dough is being rolled out and dropped gently into a shallow pan of hot oil. What emerges is both crisp and chewy, only to be topped with wonderful ingredients and devoured.

Now that I have myself salivating, I guess I should expand more on the cooking application of this bread, as it has become a staple in my household. I make this on average once every two weeks, either planning it or when I have nothing else to make for dinner. Yes, it's that easy.

Fry bread is remarkably healthy (don't scoff, I mean it). Yes, its fried in shallow oil, but it has no fat in the dough and is patted free of oil after cooking. Oily fry bread is NOT good stuff. It might take some getting used to, as the dough cooks quickly and the thickness can mess with your head. But enough talking, Skylar, give me the recipe!

Indian Fry Bread

2 C flour
4 t baking powder
1 t salt
Warm Water
Extra flour for rolling
Vegetable oil for frying

In a medium pan or cast iron skillet, heat about 1-1 1/2 inches vegetable oil to about 325. This is the optimum temperature for frying this bread, higher can make it too crispy, and lower can make it oily. Make sure to watch your temperature when you add the dough

Combine dry ingredients. Add enough warm water until the dough becomes a nice sticky mess. Lightly flour your work surface and turn the dough out. Knead a few times, not too much, then set the dough aside. Break off about a golf ball size bit of dough (or slightly larger) and roll out until about 1/4 inch thick. With your finger, make a small hole in the middle of the dough about the size of a nickel. This allows for a better shape and prevents the dough from becoming a bubble (we are not making sopapias). Lightly place the dough in oil and fry on each side until it becomes slightly golden brown, about 2-3 minutes each side. You should be able to fry two at a time, and you can roll out all of your dough ahead of time.

A lot of this recipe is eyeballing, from the thickness to the cooking time. As it goes for me, the first fry bread is usually a wash and a great way to see any adjustments you need to make, as well as a nice snack.

When the dough has finished frying, place on a plate lined with paper towels and blot dry. Fry the rest up and get ready to eat. You can hold the already completed ones in an oven set at the lowest setting.

So, now you have dough, what to do with it? Well, I for one like the more Mexican application. So spread some refried beans (recipe found here), mix in a few dollops of sour cream, top with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, guacamole, salsa, or any combination. I have had them with shredded beef as well. If you want sweet, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar. There are endless applications with these (though I do not approve of putting marinara sauce on these, blech) and they are very versatile.

This recipe makes about 5-6 fry bread depending on how thick you roll them. It easily doubles or triples without adjustment. It remains one of my favorite recipes, takes not time to make, and is true crowd pleaser.


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