Easy Navajo Tacos and Sopaipillas
History of Mama’s Navajo Tacos
My mama and daddy had dear friends who lived on the Florida (flow-REE-da) River out from Durango, CO. Mama and Daddy visited as often as they could as Daddy loved to fly fish catching breakfast, lunch, and dinner throughout their stay. Their friend, Bud Hyson, was full blood Navajo and a gifted silversmith. His lovely wife, Lesta, was an excellent cook and shared many of her Navajo recipes with my mama. One of our favorites was Lesta’s Navajo Tacos. In true Southwestern style, this dish is a stacked dish consisting of a piece of fry bread, beans, chili, cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado or guacamole, sour cream, salsa, etc. It’s the fry bread that makes it Navajo.
An easier version
It was always quite an undertaking and event when Mama planned Navajo tacos for supper and they were usually planned for a crowd. I just loved them but never planned them for a family meal as they were a lot of trouble–until I found an alternative dough for the fry bread–canned Pillsbury Southern Homestyle Biscuits. I hate canned biscuits but promise these don’t taste like canned once you roll them out thin and fry them. If you just can’t do canned buy frozen, thaw, and then roll out. Or, you can take some extra time and make Lesta’s recipe that I’ve included below.
A great chili recipe to make ahead and freeze
I also keep my home-made chili frozen in pint and quart containers, so there’s no chili to have to cook. As the chili is heating, I get my family in the kitchen cutting up lettuce, tomatoes, and avocados while I roll out the Pillsbury biscuits on a floured cutting board. Also, I buy pre-shredded sharp cheddar cheese requiring no work there.
A worthy salsa in a jar
I do love fresh made salsa but don’t always have time to make it and the fresh salsa from the deli doesn’t have as long of a shelf life as I sometimes need. My store bought “go to” is Herdez Salsa Casera. Honestly, it’s the only salsa in a jar worthy of my table.
Frying the taco and Sopaipillas
When everything is ready, it’s time to get the oil hot and fry the flattened biscuits. There are four of us so I fry 4 biscuits for each Navajo taco and the other 4 biscuits I roll out and fry for Sopaipillas after supper. The 4 fry breads for Sopaipillas I keep covered in a warm oven to stay hot during supper then serve them with honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar for our dessert. Soooo good!!
A beverage to serve with your Navajo Tacos
If you are so inclined, you could always stir up a pitcher of margaritas to serve with your Navajo Tacos. For a super easy and delicious recipe click here.
Or, if you prefer a virgin option, try this recipe.
- 1/2 can Pillsbury Southern Homestyle biscuits*
- 1 qt. chili w/beans (beans are optional and according to your preference. You can substitute taco meat for this layer)
- 1-2 c. sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
- 2 c. shredded lettuce
- Lg. tomato, chopped
- 1/2 c. sour cream
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1/2-1 c. salsa
- Other topping suggestions–sliced black olives, guacamole, cilantro, green onions
- 1/2 can Pillsbury Southern Homestyle biscuits*
*LESTA’S FRY BREAD (to replace canned biscuits)
- 3 c. All purpose flour
- 1 T baking powder
- 1 T salt
- 1 T powdered milk
- 1/2 T Lard
- 1 1/4 c. warm water
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- Make chili ahead or pull frozen from your freezer. (Or prepare taco meat)
- While chili is heating, prepare lettuce, tomatoes, and avocados (don’t prepare avocados too far in advance as they will begin to brown).
- Roll out biscuits (Dust rolling pin and surface with flour to keep from sticking and roll out as thin as you can without tearing)
- Biscuits can be rolled out 30 minutes before you’re ready to fry them.
- When chili is hot and toppings are prepared, heat 1″ of oil in a skillet. Heat oil to 350 degrees.
- While oil is heating, arrange paper towels on an oven proof pan to be ready for fry bread.
- Drop fry bread into oil and fry about one minute on each side until browned. As fry bread comes up, layer paper towels between layers of fry bread. Depending on the size of your skillet, you can fry multiple biscuits at one time. They should not overlap.
NAVAJO TACO LAYERING
- Place 1 fry bread on plate and top as follows:
- Beans and Chili or taco meat
- chopped tomatoes
- sour cream
- sliced avocado
- a bit more shredded cheese and any other toppings you want to add
- Preheat oven to warm (about 170 degrees)
- Cover fry bread for sopaipillas and place in oven to stay warm
- Serve warm with a drizzle of honey and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon
LESTA’S FRY BREAD
- Mix dry ingredients
- Cut lard into dry ingredients as you would pastry
- Add warm water and mix
- Knead for one minute
- Divide into 6-8 balls, cover with damp paper towel and let rest for 30 minutes
- Roll balls flat dusting rolling pin and surface with flour to keep from sticking. Roll out as thin as you can without tearing. Dough can be rolled out ahead of cooking–just keep covered with a moist paper towel.
- Fry in 1″ hot oil (about 1 minute per side until golden brown)
- Drain on paper towels and layer for Navajo Tacos as above