Start to Finish: 30 minutes Servings: 4 to 6 Difficulty: Intermediate
Fry bread is a symbol of Native American culture -- particularly Navajo culture -- created out of necessity and lack of food supplies during the tribal relocation known as the Long Walk. This cultural and gastronomic staple is widely sold at powwows and is comparable to to the carnival food, fried dough. Traditional preparation requires mixing and working the dough into round disks, but using the dough of frozen bread rolls simplifies the process.
Adapted from Smithsonian Magazine
- 3 to 4 cups corn oil
- 1 package frozen dinner rolls (8- to 12-count)
Set the frozen rolls out on a lightly floured work surface until they reach room temperature. Leave space between each roll to rise so they don't stick together.
Work each dough ball in your hands to make a flat circle roughly 1/4 inch thick and 8 inches in diameter. Poke a hole through the center of each circle with your finger. Dust each side with flour; shake off the excess.
Heat 1 inch of corn oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat -- the amount of oil needed depends on the pan size. The oil should stay between 350 and 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place a circle of dough in the hot oil. You may be able to fry more than one piece of bread at a time in large skillets, if you can leave 1 to 2 inches of space between each piece.
Fry the bread for 2 minutes per side, flipping it with a pair of tongs. The bread puffs up a bit as it fries and develops a light golden color around the edges.
Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Serve hot.
The hole in the center keeps the bread relatively flat when it puffs in the oil rather than creating a pocket similar to pita bread.
Watch the bread carefully to turn it at the precise moment when it puffs up. The color change is only slight, so time and puffiness are the best indicators.
Serve fresh, hot fry bread alongside a bowl of chili or other saucy dish -- use the bread to sop up the juices. In the Southwest United States, fry bread often stands for tortillas as a shell for tacos. To enjoy fry bread as a dessert, sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar, or serve with honey and jam.