Saturday, March 5, 2011

Fajitas - A New Method Tested

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 A friend of mine was recently telling me I was going to way too much trouble when I made fajitas.  Seems as though he has a one-step method.  Simply cut up all of the ingredients, make a sauce, toss together and refrigerator for 24-48 hours stirring a few times throughout.  Hmmmmm... more simple than my method for sure.  So I thought I would give it a try and report here on the results.

Using my customary method, I slice the chicken and the beef (generally skirt steak) and toss it with a marinade.  But I keep them separate and I don't include the peppers and onions.  But following his advice, I placed all of the ingredients together and let them marinate as instructed.  Just a few minutes before dinner was to be on the table, I placed some wheat tortillas in the over (covered) to warm.  While heating my large cast iron skillet I drained the sauce from the mixture.  I added the mixture to the hot skillet and enjoyed the sizzle.  Thankfully I had my trusty splatter screen handy as I didn't want to cover (and steam) the food, but I did want to try and contain the grease as the sauce had contained quite a bit of oil.  It did smell wonderful and after about 8 minutes, I removed it from the stove top and took it directly to the table, still sizzling.  It looked yummy, but how would it taste.

Kevin took a big bite and said, 'the flavor's nice'.  I  concurred but felt the vegetables where a bit over-cooked; likewise for the chicken.  The beef was just right.  While it was generally good and simple to prepare, I will fall back to my old method of cooking the ingredients separately.  This means marinating the meats separately first.  Here's my method which I think you will find provides superior fajitas.

Marinade:

  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 fresh Jalapeño pepper, seeded, ribs removed, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, including stems
  • 1 1/2 cups Goya Mojo Criollo (Optional)
Mix together all of the above.   Goya Mojo Criollo is a tangy blend of orange and lemon juices, accented with garlic and spices.  If you can't find that, look for a similar sauce in the Mexican/Spanish food isle of your grocer, or omit it if you prefer a more dry mixture.  Slice your meat (I like half chicken and half beef.  Use skinless chicken breasts and flank steak. Cut the flank steak across the grain to improve tenderness or use a better quality piece of beef.)  In all you will need three pounds of meat, cut into strips about 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide and thick.  Place the meats in separate bowls with lids or use a Ziploc bags, which I prefer.  Cover each with half of the marinade, turn it a few times to coat, and place in the refrigerator for 24+ hours.

When ready to prepare the meal, slice and de-seed peppers and and slice an onion.  I'm a fan of using what I have on hand, although a red onion or sweet onion are preferred, and if you have red, green and yellow peppers, your dish will look nicer.  But use what is in the house.  Toss them lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper and set aside.

Drain the excess sauces from the meat(s).  In a very hot cast-iron skillet, saute the beef.  When cooked nearly through (about 6-8 minutes for medium-well), remove it to a separate dish.  Cook the chicken in the same skillet, noting it requires only about 4 minutes to be fully cooked. Stir frequently.  Remove it to the dish with the beef.  Saute the onion for 4 minutes not permitting it to brown (turn down the flame if necessary, and add a little oil if required).  Then add peppers in the same skillet and saute with the onions until just tender.  Add the meat(s) to the vegetables and stir to warm.  Take the sizzling pan to the table with the warmed tortillas, and provide sour cream, guacamole and/or salsa to top.  Squeeze half a lime over the sizzling dish just before serving. 

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