Loaded Belizean Fry Jacks
Note: This recipe is based on my experience with the flavors of Belize and a fry jack I watched someone make and then was able to enjoy during our time in Placencia. To be clear, this is NOT the same as a quesadilla and if it is made with regular tortillas, it is not a fry jack. Fry jack refers to the fried dough and must be made the traditional Belizean way to be called a Belizean Fry Jack. To see how to do this, please check out this video for an excellent tutorial!
One of the greatest joys I get from traveling is learning about the local food. It’s amazing to experience the simple dishes adored by people around the world. In Japan, I was immediately smitten with onigiri, specifically yaki onigiri, which is a simple ball of rice that is grilled and brushed with soy sauce. Simple, comforting, and surprisingly flavorful. In Argentina, empanadas stole my heart with their hand-held, hearty goodness. Whoever decided ground beef, green olives, and raisins work together was a genius. And in Belize, I was crazy over Fry Jacks. My favorite had refried beans, scrambled eggs, and lots of cheese. Like a breakfast quesadilla on a fluffy, bread-y tortilla.
One of the things that makes Fry Jacks so wonderful is how they can be personalized and enjoyed with various toppings. My first Fry Jack in Placencia was filled with cheese, beans, and eggs. These Loaded Belizean Fry Jacks are filled with seasoned ground beef, refried black beans, fried plantains, and allllll the giant shreds of Tillamook Farmstyle Cut Mexican 4 Shredded Cheese!
I used a Belizean BBQ Seasoning Mix, but that can be hard to find so feel free to use taco seasoning. I also made my own tortillas so I could get the nice, slightly fluffy texture of Belizean tortillas. But I have found Trader Joe’s large flour tortillas are an excellent substitute! They are soft and slightly chewy, which works so well for this cheesy treat.
Whether you’re having friends over for bookclub or to watch “the game”, these Loaded Belizean Fry Jacks are sure to please!
Loaded Belizean Fry Jacks
Makes 6-8 servings
1 batch Belizean Fry Jacks or very soft four tortillas to make quesadilla version
1/2 cup refried black beans
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Belizean BBQ seasoning or taco seasoning
1/2 lb ground beef
1 plantain, cut into 1/4 inch slices
Coconut or Vegetable oil
Marie Sharp’s Hot Sauce (or other favorite hot sauce)
Begin by heating a skillet with 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and sprinkle with seasoning. Brown the meat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. When fully cooked, transfer the meat to a plate with a slotted spoon. Set aside.
Next, heat a cast iron skillet with 1/4 inch of oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the plantain slices and fry for 1-2 minute per side, then transfer to a paper towel lined plate.
Meanwhile, season the refried beans with salt and a squeeze of lime juice to taste. Spread refried beans over 4 of the tortillas, followed by the ground beef. Layer the plantain slices over the beef, then sprinkle with the cheese and a few cilantro leaves. Top with the remaining 4 tortillas.
In the same cast iron skillet you used to fry the plantains, reheat the oil, adding more to reach 1/4 inch of oil in the skillet. Using a large spatula, ease the first fry jack into the hot oil and fry for about 3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Transfer the fry jack to a sheet pan and keep warm in a 200 degree oven. Continue with the remaining fry jacks.
Cut each fry jack into 4 wedges, sprinkled with additional cilantro, fresh lime juice, and hot sauce. Serve immediately and enjoy the cheesy goodness!