Welcome to my very first recipe post!
I’ve been a little bit nervous about making a recipe post up until now because…Let’s face it. There are people who are way more qualified than I am to write about food. People who went to school for this kind of thing. People who have been cooking for themselves for longer than two years. People who actually measure things out and time their recipes for accuracy.
I am (clearly) none of those people.
But I do love food so much that I do a little dance every time I eat something too delicious for words, I do have an ever-growing command of the spice rack, and I do text my mom questions while I’m cooking from time to time. I think that makes me qualified enough.
Today we’re making what we Belizeans call fry jacks, but I’m pretty sure almost every culture has their own version of this treat.
I’ve seen it at carnivals sold as “Indian Fry Bread” in taco form and “Elephant Ears” in dessert form. I’ve seen them at Mexican restaurants as “sopapillas,” and my big sis Yumarie tells me they’re called “ojaldas” in Panama.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve watched my mother make these from scratch and wondered how she could so magically whip these up without so much as a measuring cup. She just knows. While she was visiting over this winter break, I made her share her secrets.
YOU WILL NEED:
3.5 cups of flour
¼ cup of oil
Just under 1 tablespoon of baking powder
A heaping 1/2 tablespoon of salt
Just under 1 tablespoon of sugar
1 and 2/3 cup of water
STEP 1: Mix all ingredients together until dough-y.
STEP 1.5: If there’s too much water, like in the picture above, keep adding flour until it’s the right consistency.
You’ll know it’s the right consistency when it stop sticking to your fingers and looking all…weird.
STEP 2: When it looks like something a completely unrelated, third party would identify as “dough”, it’s time to start kneading. I’ve noticed that sprinkling flour on the counter beforehand (and maybe during) really helps.
After a while, everything will start to feel like it’s all mixed in, and the dough won’t feel as rough anymore.
STEP 3: Leave your dough alone for a little while, let it relax, take a bubble bath…Haha. But seriously, this step is what allows the baking powder to “activate” itself and help the fry jacks to puff up.
My mom says to leave it for about twenty minutes if you aren’t rushed, but just a few minutes will suffice if you’re in a pinch.
STEP 4: Roll those babies out!
I’ve never seen my mother use a rolling pin, and I can’t say that I’ve ever used one either. Our preferred method is “soy sauce bottle from the pantry.”
Cut off a section of your dough, and roll it out until it’s the right thickness.
Be careful not to roll it out too thick or too thin. If you make them too thin, you won’t be able to peel them off the counter. If you make them too thick, your fry jacks will turn out big and fat and chunky and they won’t bubble up.
Use a knife to cut them into good-sized sections. If you’re my grandma, you’ll care that they’re all weird shaped. If you’re like my mother and I, you’ll realize the taste is what matters!
STEP 5: Put a frying pan on medium-ish heat, and fill it with enough oil to fry in.
You know the oil is hot enough when it’s kind of shimmering.
When frying your sections, it’s important to lay them down away from you to minimize the amount of flaming oil spatters flying in your direction. [They don’t really flame. I’m just being dramatic.]
They will float to the top and blow up with air pretty quickly, so make sure your full attention is on the stove. Flip them over with a fork or tongs so that both sides get a nice, golden brown coloring. This all happens in about 2 minutes, at the very most.
Make sure you have a bowl of some sort, lined with paper towels to soak up the excess oil with, ready for your fry jacks to go into. And you’re done!
We usually eat this as a breakfast item with cheese, syrup, butter and jelly, eggs, etc. But lately I’ve taken to making them in the morning and eating them as a side to whatever meal I’m having throughout the day. They go well with beans, fish and rice, chicken, ANYTHING. Do what you want with them! They’re yours!