In what seems like a life-time ago, before Kiddo came into our lives, I was working on a book. The book, although fiction, was woven from the tapestry of American history from 1868 to 1876. What is the saying? Write what you know about . . . historical accuracy meant a great deal of research.
For us, the extensive research was a team-effort. Hubby was an awesome partner in this endeavor – he did a lot of the dry research – gathering information on building construction of the time, weapons and statistical information, then broke it down for me. I buried myself in writings of the time – especially diaries, letters and photographs. Hubby read what I wrote, editing it for historical inaccuracies. But you can only get so much from facts and historical documents. Hubby and I also spent our vacations traveling throughout Wyoming and Montana. As much as possible, we traveled the original Bozeman Trail. It was during this time that Hubby and I discovered Rendezvous, modern-day Mountain Men and Pow-wows. We also fell in love with Navajo Tacos. To go to a Rendezvous and not have a Navajo Taco was, in our humble opinion, in violation of all that was good. It would be like going to Coney Island and not having a Nathan’s Hot Dog. Navajo Tacos are part of the Rendezvous-Pow-wow experience.
When Kiddo was born, writing and Rendezvous were put on hold. Anyone with a baby can attest to the fact that much of your own life and personal dreams take a back seat to the needs of a child. Eventually, the traveling returned – Kiddo has attended his share of Mountain Man Rendezvous and shares our passion for learning through hands-on experiences. As for the book, with the first four chapters complete, a rough outline of the rest of the story sketched out and an agent waiting in the wings, those are dreams that have long ago been abandoned. Perhaps some day, but not today.
But not our love for Navajo Tacos. Especially those we cook up at home. Kiddo and I make a wonderful team when it comes to the Fry Bread base for the tacos. I make the dough, and shape the shells by hand one at a time. Kiddo fries the bread to golden perfection. In no time at all, we are in Navajo Taco heaven.
Some Navajo Tacos are made with only ground beef as the meat, others use what can only be described as Chili – beans, sauce and hunks of meat. Mine are made with a blend of meats, refried beans (these adhere better to the fry bread while holding the meat filling in place for a less messy dining experience) and a mountain of the usual taco toppings – tomatoes, lettuce and so forth. These American Tacos (as in Navajo) are filling and beyond satisfying. As for the fry bread, I’ve played around with a number of recipes – this one never misses.
Ingredients – Garnish
2-3 Tomatoes, chopped
2 Cups Lettuce, shredded
1 Cup Shredded Mexican Cheese
10 Jalapeño peppers, chopped (optional)
1 Cup Sour Cream
Gather and prepare all the garnish toppings. Chop tomatoes, shred lettuce and put aside until ready to assemble tacos.
Next, make the dough for the fry bread.
Ingredients – Fry Bread
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
1 cup milk, warmed
Mix dry ingredients together. Cut in shortening; then add milk. Knead for 5 minutes on floured board. Shape dough into a long cylinder; brush with oil, cover with plastic and let rest for 20 minutes.
While the dough is resting, cook up the taco fillings.
Ingredients – Taco Fillings
1 lb Ground Beef (Chuck has the most flavor)
1 Lb Bulk Chorizo Meat (the good stuff)
2 Tablespoons Taco Seasoning
1 Teaspoon Chipotle Seasoning
1 Can Refried Beans
1-2 tablespoons bacon drippings
In a large skillet, brown ground beef and chorizo meat together. Drain well, add seasonings. Place filling into a bowl and keep warm in the oven.
While meat is browning, heat bacon drippings in another skillet. Add refried beans and heat through. Keep warm until ready to use.
Ingredients – To Finish
oil ( for deep-frying)
When ready, fry up the bread. Cut dough into 8 equal parts. Work with 1 part at a time, keep remaining dough covered.
Roll a piece of dough into a ball. Flatten the dough by hand, with a rolling-pin or tortilla press to create about a 4″ to 6″ tortilla. Don’t worry if your fry bread isn’t perfectly round. Mine rarely are – some are oblong, some a bit more square. It really doesn’t matter.
Fry bread in hot oil until golden brown, swirling as it cooks to prevent burning. Use the end of a wooden spoon to swirl bread as it cooks, flip and continue to brown until done. Place on a paper towel, blot off excess grease and set aside in a warm oven. Repeat until all the bread has been fried.
To Assemble: Spread warm beans on fry bread. Top with meat, garnish as desired and enjoy.
************Forgive me for not photographing the dough-making process. My hands were a mess and I didn’t want to keep wiping them clean to handle the camera. Here are a few pictures – enough to give you the general idea . . .