“Food is the most raw when it’s born out of necessity,” says host Sheldon Simeon in this episode of Cooking in America, as he visits Off the Rez — a Seattle food truck specializing in Native American cuisine. At the heart of Off the Rez’s menu is its fry bread, a staple recipe developed from the rationed ingredients native tribes were given; here, it’s crafted by hand by owners Mark McConnell and Cecilia Rikard.
McConnell’s mother grew up on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana, where residents have been serving fry bread and tacos at family gatherings for decades. When McConnell first arrived in Seattle, “I started craving fry bread,” he says, noting he couldn’t find it anywhere in the city. The round, deep-fried bread is served alone at Off the Rez, but Simeon also digs into varieties that are topped with pulled pork, beef chili, and a sweet one finished with huckleberry jam. There’s even a burger that uses two pieces fry bread in place of a bun.