Sunday, 16 June 2013

Fajitas - Chicken and Beef

I love to order fajitas when I go to Mexican restaurants and get the sizzling hot cast iron "plate" of crispy veggies and juicy chicken and beef.  Even though I don't have a cast iron "plate" to complete the classic fajitas presentation, I still try to recreate the restaurant experience at home.  Here we have chicken and beef fajitas; the chicken, beef AND the veggies get a flavor-packed marinade that really comes alive when sauteed on a quick and high heat.



 


First, let's get started on the marinade...
which I recommend quadrupling if you will do beef fajitas along with chicken fajitas
Marinade ingredients showing up for role call

Roughly chop the green onions and garlic and throw in your blender (knife cuts don't matter)

Remove the seeds from the jalapeno and chop in to pieces and put in your blender

1/4 Cup (or so) lime juice and put in the blender - equivalent to 2-3 limes

1/4 cup chicken broth (I used 1/4 cup water and 1/8 tsp chicken bullion)
...put in the blender

1 Cup Cilantro leaves in the blender

1 tablespoon honey in the blender...it balances out the acidity

Blend, blend way

Oops, Forgot the Salt! I added 1/2 tsp and quickly blended it again.

This will give you 1 Cup of marinade

Cut your chicken into fajita-sized strips

Put 1/2 cup of the marinade on the chicken and let marinate overnight if possible.
The remaining 1/2 cup will be for the veggies

While the chicken is marinating, let's work on the veggies. I used red and yellow peppers along with red onions, but you can use any color you like.

Cut the "tops" and "bottoms" off your bell pepper. I have to thank my friend Deborah for showing up to help me. Her lovely hands are featured here.




And of course you will do the same for the red peppers too.

Slice your onion in half

And slice thin slices


Pour the marinade over the peppers and onions

Saute on MED or MED HIGH heat in regular vegetable oil a cast iron skillet if you have one. Otherwise a regular non-stick pan will do. We still want crunch to the veggies so it will be a quick saute. 

Now on to the chicken...
Heat up some vegetable oil in a non-stick pan on MED or MED HIGH heat and quickly brown your chicken pieces. The KEY is to leave the chicken alone for a few minutes to allow a gorgeous brown color. If you move it too much, you will end up with pale chicken. Who wants pale chicken?

BROWN = FLAVOR

Your chicken will look like this! 
The marinade will slightly caramelize over the chicken when it is browned in this way and you will really be able to taste the flavors of the marinade.

Serve with homemade salsa, tortillas, sour cream, guacamole and chips and you can charge your friends 16.99 per plate. 

Beef Fajitas

So my dear husband decided to bring home some gorgeous flank steak. Beef fajitas weren't on the original menu for our gathering but we both have a weak spot for meat -especially when we see a cut of meat that has "marble-fat" all throughout it. I don't blame him for not being able to resist this marbley goodness. You will have to make double the marinade for this beef recipe.

Lay the flank (or skirt) steak onto a flat glass pan ...this is 2 1/2 lbs of beef and I used an 11x15 glass pan

Sprinkle about 2-3 tbsp of onion powder. You don't have to be exact but blanket it like this on both sides. Also, sprinkle the top with salt. You will have to decide how much you like to use. 
I ended up using about 2 tsp.

Put 1 tsp of Cumin

Pour vegetable oil -about 1/4 cup or so.

Take 1/2 cup of orange juice or the juice of 1 orange and pour over the beef

Pour 1 cup of the marinade over the beef (and use the rest for the veggies)

After you work all the ingredients into the beef it will look like this. This needs to marinade overnight for best results.

The grilled result! Let your meat rest for about 10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute back into the meat. The results are juicy!

Cut into fajita-sized strips

Toss with the vegetables (cooked in the same way as directed above)
Also serve with salsa, tortillas, sour cream, guacamole and chips and you can charge your friends 16.99 per plate. 


Marinade
1 C cilantro leaves
1/4 C lime juice (2-3 limes)
1 jalapeno, seeds removed (if you want heat leave seeds)
1/4 C chicken broth (1/4 C water + 1/8 tsp chicken bullion base)
3 Green onions
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt

Put all the ingredients in a blender in no particular order and blend until incorporated. Makes about 1 cup.

Chicken Fajitas
3 chicken breasts (or equiv to 1 1/2 lbs) - sliced into fajita-sized pieces
1 red onion (sliced)
1 red pepper (sliced)
1 yellow pepper (sliced)
Vegetable oil

Combine the onions and peppers in a bowl. Put the sliced chicken in another bowl. Put half of the marinade over the chicken. Let the chicken marinate overnight if possible or for at least one hour.  Pour the remaining marinade over the veggies but let them marinate for about 1/2 hour or so, not overnight.

In a non-stick skillet, put a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil and saute your chicken until browned.  The key is to let the oil and pan get hot and to leave the chicken alone for a few minutes to let the brown color develop.  If you move it too much, you will end up with pale chicken.

Once all your chicken is cooked, you could clean out the same pan if you like and start on your veggies. You may have to work in batches. Heat oil in a cast iron skillet if you have one, otherwise a non-stick is OK too. Let the pan and oil get hot and quickly saute your veggies. Getting a little of the marinade into this saute is OK too. It will intensify the flavor the veggies. You can also sprinkle the veggies with a little salt as you saute to flavor them too.

Combine the veggies and cooked chicken and serve with homemade salsa, tortillas or your sides of choice.

Beef Fajitas
2 1/2 lbs skirt steak or flank steak
1 Cup of the marinade
1-2 tsp Salt
2-3 tbsp onion powder (or more to make sure it's well coated)
1/2 Cup Orange Juice
1 tsp Cumin
2 red peppers
2 yellow peppers

Sprinkle onion powder, salt, cumin over the meat and rub it in. Pour the marinade and orange juice over the meat and toss the meat until it is evenly incorporated over the meat.  Marinating overnight will give you the best results.  Grill the meat approximately 5-10 min on each side or until you reach the level of "doneness" that works for you. We did ours to a medium (pink in the middle). Let the meat rest for 10 minutes to allow the juices to reconstitute back into the meat and slice into fajita-sized pieces. If you do not want to use a grill, heat a skillet with a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil and sear on both sides for approx 5 minutes. Salt the meat more to taste if you like.  Combine with the sauteed veggies (as directed above).

Marinade recipe adapted from Food Network

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