Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tastes like chicken (fajitas)

I love to play with food. Interactive food types allow you to stretch the culinary imagination a bit. Southwestern or Tex Mex cuisine tends towards foods where you prepare the final dish yourself. The king of these would have to be fajitas a favorite of chain restaurants everywhere. The sizzling cast iron skillet of meat, sides like cheese, sour cream, peepers, onions, pico...yup, awesome.But did you know that making your own is super easy and relatively inexpensive? Well I'm telling you it is. You need only keep 3 rules in mind; a great marinade, larger cuts of meat, and a sizzling hot pan

I'm going to share my favorite fajita marinade which I tend to use on chicken even when I'm not doing fajitas. This marinade would also work great with shrimp and skirt steak (both of which I find overpriced). For demonstration purposes I will also be cooking with peppers and onions which, as you know, I loathe. The things I do for you people!! We're cooking with boneless, skinless chicken breast mostly because I love chicken and it's on sale every other week. Now, the absolute key is leaving the breasts whole, cooking them, then slicing them. When you use small little pieces like you would for stir fry they just dry out. So, we'll marinate, cook until it's mostly cooked, slice it, finish it and eat it!!


2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast (if you watch the videos (and I hope you do) you'll see I'm obviously not cooking the whole 2 lbs at once as I was cooking just for me)

1 yellow or white onion

1 pepper (green, red, whatever you want...I'm using red)

For marinade-
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Flour tortillas
sour cream
shredded cheese (cheddar, jack, etc)
pico de gallo

Step 1- To make the marinade combined all ingredients in a container with a lid and shake the heck out of it. Don't sub bottled lime juice for fresh!!

Step 2- Put the chicken in a zip top bag and pour the marinade over it. Seal and move the chicken around to coat it all (note- if you breasts seem overly thick you may want to butterfly them-see 1st video). Put it in the fridge for at least 2 hours, ideally overnight

Step 3- Cut the onion in thin rings then cut in half. Cut the pepper into long strips then cut in half (again see first video)

Step 4- Preheat a heavy skillet (or electric skillet) on medium high. Add a drizzle of oil (I used regular olive oil). Add the chicken to the skillet. Cook 4-6 minutes depending on the thickness of the breast (if the bottom is nicely brown it's ready to turn). Turn the chicken over. Add the onions and peppers. Keep the veggies moving. We want to saute them, not burn them. After about 4 minutes remove the chicken

Step 5- On a cutting board, with your sharpest knife, cut the chicken into thin strips. The chicken should be a bit "under" cooked. Return to pan with onions and peppers and continue to stir the chicken and veggies around the pan. The meat will pick up the flavor of the veggies and the marinade which now coats the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes and enjoy

I'm not going to tell you how to serve fajitas as anyone who's been to a chili/friday/applebees knows how to do that!! I hope you like this one as it's both tasty, fun, and a great meal for a group (or one hungry, hungry person)