Photography: Thosh Collins
Photography: Thosh Collins

Gallup, New Mexico-based chef Bitsoie is one of the most sought-after Native foods educators in the country.

Navajo chef Freddie Bitsoie is a man on an ambitious mission to redefine the concept of Native American food. “In the utopian world that exists in my mind,” says the culinary-inclined member of the Water’s Edge clan, “when people say ‘Native American food,’ I hope they’re defining it according to region or tribe.” The owner of FJBits Concepts, a firm specializing in Native American foodways, the Gallup, New Mexico-based Bitsoie is one of the most sought-after Native foods educators in the country, carrying his mission to clients like Kraft Foods and the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Bitsoie likens his quest to defining pizza — it’s different if eaten in Chicago, New York, or Rome.

“There is no one-size-fits-all here. I’d like people to distinguish Native American foods the way they do with regional differences elsewhere in the world. Calling it ‘Native American fare’ is not fair. Food is a product of culture, and all Native American cultures are different in preference and preparation. Native American food can’t be one generic, homogenous category. Just as tribes across the nation have similar but different ceremonies, they each have culturally specific foods. Instead of lumping them together, we should celebrate their differences. I strive to prepare dishes that have substance to the point where elders can taste them and recognize the versions of dishes they’ve had all their lives.”

Photography: Thosh Collins
Photography: Thosh Collins

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Pork Tenderloin

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon dried sage
1 1-pound pork tenderloin
3 tablespoons oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl. Rub the spices on the pork. Heat a sauté pan or griddle to medium-high heat and add oil. Sear all sides of the pork until the spices form a crust.

Place the pork on a baking sheet and roast in oven for 20 – 25 minutes, or until done. Set aside for the pork to rest for about 5 – 10 minutes.

Three-Bean Ragout

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
½ of a carrot, finely diced
½ of a celery stalk, finely diced
1 cup cooked kidney beans
1 cup cooked cannellini beans
1 cup cooked black beans
½ cup diced tomatoes
2½ cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottom medium pot. Add the onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, carrot, and celery. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and allow the ingredients to sweat. Cook until the onion is soft and translucent.

Add the cooked beans, tomato, and stock and bring to a light boil. Reduce heat to a simmer; the stock will thicken. Adjust the seasoning and serve hot.

To plate, slice the pork tenderloin. Spoon some ragout onto a plate and top with pork slices.

From the May/June 2015 issue.

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