04 May 2010

Simple Fajitas


Cinco de Mayo always make me think of fajitas. Fajitas are a favorite from way back in my Texas days. Many a summer barbecue we shared with friends was centered around fajitas.

And why not? Fajitas are easy to make and easy to serve. Everyone just takes what they want and puts together their own so there is no need to worry or fuss over individual preferences.

Fajitas are traditionally made from skirt steak, a tough but flavorful cut of beef. The secret to tender fajitas is marinating the meat for a long time. The biggest variable is just what to marinate it in. I have seen a lot of recipes for fajita marinades and they sound delicious. Some include chili peppers, others tequila. Some call for lime juice and some include lots of spices. What they all contain is some oil and some vinegar or citrus juice to tenderize and moisten the meat. In fact the marinade often sounds a lot like a zesty salad dressing.

To really simplify matters when I make fajitas I usually just go ahead and use a good bottled salad dressing for my marinade. It is a trick I learned from my neighbor the first time I lived in Texas, almost thirty years ago. It was at her house that I first ate home cooked fajitas. They were so delicious I had to ask her how to make them. She told me all I needed was a cut of beef and some bottled Italian salad dressing. I have been a fan of her simple technique ever since.

This time I used Newman’s Own salad dressings. They are my favorites. They are all natural and come in a variety of types and flavors. I chose Newman’s Own Family Recipe Italian on the Chicken and Newman's Own Light Balsamic Vinaigrette on the beef. Leftovers were hard to come by. Just sayin’.

As an accompaniment I sauteed onions, garlic and bell peppers. Simple and pretty the colors are those of the Mexican flag making it a great dish to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. While the flavors may be less than wholly authentic, for a festive week night celebration I think they do the trick.


Easy Fajitas

3 or 4 chicken breast halves
1 -2 pounds flank steak or skirt steak
2 cups bottled Italian or vinaigrette salad dressing
1 package flour tortillas
1 or 2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 large onion, sliced thin
1 teaspoon minced garlic
avocados
grated cheese
salsa and/or pico de gallo

Up to 24 hours and at least 4 hours in advance, place the beef and chicken in separate gallon Ziploc freezer bags (or shallow glass pans if you prefer). Pour 1 cup of your favorite Italian dressing or vinaigrette over each meat. Seal the bag and squish the dressing around to coat (or simply cover the glass pans). Place meat in the refrigerator, turning occasionally to redistribute the marinade, until ready to cook.

When you are ready to cook:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Wrap the stack of flour tortillas in foil and place in the oven to warm.

Slice and arrange avocados, grated cheese, and salsa or pico de gallo in serving dishes.

Remove the marinated meat from the refrigerator and drain. Cook the meat on the grill or under a broiler. Cook chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Cook the skirt steak over medium high to high heat to desired doneness, approximately 3-6 minutes per side. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing chicken and beef into thin strips, across the grain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Add the bell peppers. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Remove tortillas from the oven and transfer to a tortilla server or warm plate.

Pass grilled meat and vegetables along with the cheese, avocado and salsa to be wrapped in warm tortillas.

Enjoy!

9 comments:

Kate said...

I want to come to your house for dinner. These look delicious!

Kendra Logan said...

I love fajitas! Red peppers are one of my favorite foods :D

~Kendra

June said...

They look delicious Lisa! What a great idea using bottled dressing as a marinade.I'll be trying that soon.

grace said...

fajitas are always welcome in this belly of mine--i love the components and i love that you can pick exactly how much of each one that you want. happy cinco de mayo, lisa!

Holly said...

This looks absolutly delicious!!

theUngourmet said...

The dressing is a brilliant idea! These look fantastic!

Katherine Aucoin said...

My family loves fajitas and I have to say, I'm anxious to try yours!

cedar chest said...

This looks special to me! I like the presentation! This is a really nice dinner.

Sarah from 20somethingcupcakes said...

I make fajitas all the time - but have never marinated the meat! Usually just brown it then let it finish cooking with all the veggies and spices. I am so trying this! Also - I have some mojo in the fridge - I bet that would be good! xxSAS