Sunday, June 28, 2015

Navajo Tacos from Tastes & Treasures cookbook in AZ Republic

From June 26, 2015 Arizona Republic, Jan D'Atri column (and we totally agree) -

Cameron Trading Post Navajo Tacos
If you lived in Arizona in the 1970s and '80s, you remember that Indian Fry Bread and Navajo Tacos were as ubiquitous as burgers are today.
What happened? Why did such a tasty Southwestern treasure fall off the Arizona map?

One place that still prides itself on having the authentic Navajo Taco on the menu is the historic 99-year-old Cameron Trading Post, north of Flagstaff at the east end of the Grand Canyon.  It was established in 1916 by two brothers, Hubert and C.D. Richardson, who filled it with dry goods to barter with Navajo and Hopi locals for wool, blankets and livestock.

Today, it's still a popular "stop along the way" where tourists can shop for Native American Indian Art and dine in the spacious dining room with is stone fireplace, picture windows and pressed tin ceiling.

The Cameron Trading Post Navajo Taco and Native Fry Bread recipes are featured in the award-winning cookbook, "Tastes & Treasures, A Storytelling Cookbook of Historic Arizona," produced by the Historical League.

It is available at and at the Cameron Trading Post.
As the cookbook states, if you make this hearty and satisfying dish, "Have big plates and big appetites. Nizhoni!" (which means "beautiful" in Navajo).

Navajo Tacos 
1 medium sweet yellow onion, diced

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound lean ground beef

1 (8 ounce) can chili sauce

3/4 teaspoon crushed cumin seeds or ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 (approx.15 oz) cans pinto beans, drained

6 pieces Navajo fry bread

2-3 cups shredded lettuce

2-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

2 large tomatoes cut into wedges

1 large green chile, diced

In a large skillet, sauté onion in olive oil until golden brown. Add beef and brown. Add chili sauce, cumin, garlic powder, red pepper flakes and salt. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
When done, gently stir beans into meat mixture to and heat. Spread mixture over top of fry bread. Top with lettuce, cheese, tomato wedges and green chile.

Navajo Fry Bread Ingredients
Shortening for deep frying
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup or more, enough for dough to form a ball

Navajo Fry Bread Directions
In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add milk and enough water to form a dough ball, stirring constantly. Cover and let rest for about 30 minutes.
When ready to cook, in a large skillet, heat 2-3 inches of shortening to 380 degrees. Pinch off 6 equal size pieces of dough and, on a floured surface, roll each out about 7 inches (the size of a small dinner plate.) Carefully drop into hot oil and fry on one side until golden brown, about 1 minute. With tongs, carefully turn bread over and cook until golden brown about 45 seconds.
Drain on paper towel and repeat process.