Last night I took out a pound of ground beef and thought, “I should do something different with that...” Different from what I usually do with it: Tacos, meatloaf or into spaghetti sauce. Not exactly culinary masterpieces.
Then I opened my pantry cupboard and saw one of the last remants of my three years living in South Dakota: A box of fry bread mix.
I can make Indian tacos.
I never made Indian tacos in SoDak, mainly because you could buy them pretty much any day of the week from a member of the Lakota tribe who was selling them off their back porch. So why go to the hassle?
If you don’t know — Indian tacos are taco meat, beans, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream piled on top of hot, wonderful fry bread. Unlike a really unfortunate “Indian taco” I ate at the fair here last summer, the fry bread should not be crispy like an elephant ear. It should be soft and wonderful, golden brown on the outside and slightly crispy, but you can still tear it apart and get to the doughy middle. It is heaven.
Fry bread is an invention of necessity. It’s also called Navajo bread. Tribes created it in its various forms with surplus government goods: Lots of white flour and sugar. It’s terrible for you. Growing up in Sandpoint, Idaho, I didn’t know it was called fry bread and had no idea of its cultural heritage — at our hometown restaurant, they called them “scones” and served a plate of them sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and honey at breakfast. (Imagine my shock when I first encountered an actual scone.)
I’m not brave enough to make fry bread from scratch, but I bought a great mix at a SoDak Wal-Mart. I have no idea if you can get it here, I haven’t looked yet. I hope so, because after I whip up a batch for breakfast and Indian tacos for lunch, I’m going to be out of my mix. Food Network has a recipe, though I promise you nothing for authenticity.
(Helpful tip: If you ever head out SoDak way, the best Indian tacos in the world are sold at the trading post across the street from the Battle of Little Bighorn interpretive site just off I-90).
Combine 1 pound browned ground beef with a package of taco seasoning and cook as directed. Add 1 cup refried beans. Mix well, and keep warm until ready to serve.
Prepare your fry bread per package directions, or using your favorite recipe.
When bread is done, drain off any remaining hot oil and pat dry. Spoon the beef mixture over top of the fry bread. Top with cheese, green onions, lettuce, tomatoes and olives. Serve with salsa and sour cream on the side.