We’ve been making fajitas here in the Circle B Kitchen for years and years, and I'm only just now getting around to talking about them because I've only recently discovered something rather ground-breaking in the fajita world. I discovered it by accident, which seems to be the chosen path for most important discoveries in life. And I think this one's sort of important. If you like fajitas.
The plan was to grill our fajitas, but the weather turned nasty, so I switched course, pulled out the cast iron frying pan and commenced to cooking up our fajitas on the stove. And boy howdy, we're sort of glad I did that. Here's why...
One of the most important features of a good fajita is a good marinade. That marinade should not only tenderize the meat, but flavor it, and also add a nice sauce to your finished dish. I found out that if you take the time to make a marinade and park your meat in it for several hours, you shouldn’t waste it by letting it fall through the grill and end up flavoring just your charcoal.
Traditionally, fajitas were made in a skillet or on a very hot griddle so all those juices stayed with the meat and ended up in your fajita where they belong. So our fajitas have been re-united with the cast iron pan and we're not lookin' back.
For the last couple of years I’ve been using this marinade from a Tyler Florence recipe and it’s the best I’ve had. The citrus (lime and orange) go so heavenly with the flavors of the chipotle in adobo. Never again will I let those beautiful flavors fall through a grill. No sir. Grab a heavy skillet (you can do this on the grill too) and quickly sear your meat and veggies and make sure it all gets safely nestled inside your tortilla. We like to add a little squeeze of lime, an avocado, maybe some sour cream and a sprinkling of cilantro. But I surprised myself this time by crumbling a little feta cheese in there, and that was a supremely tasty addition.
OK, I’ll stop talking now so you can go make some fajitas. Here's the recipe...
Adapted from a recipe by Tyler Florence
For the Marinade (Mojo):
1 orange, juiced
2 limes, juiced
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
For the Fajitas:
2 - 3 lbs of chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced (or any color - red, orange, yellow)
1 poblano pepper, thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons each lime juice and olive oil
12 flour tortillas, warmed
Sour cream, sliced avocado, chopped fresh cilantro and queso fresco cheese (or feta cheese), lime wedges
In a 2 cup measuring cup, or something similar size and shape, combine all the marinade ingredients. Using an immersion blender, puree the marinade until smooth.
Transfer to a re-sealable plastic bag and add the meat, seal and shake to coat. Refrigerate the meat for 2 to 4 hours to tenderize and flavor the meat.
Preheat a heavy skillet (cast iron works great) on high heat and lightly oil the pan.
Remove the chicken from the marinade with tongs and place in the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
Sear the meat over medium-high heat and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side and then transfer to a cutting board and let rest for at least 5 minutes or so. Depending on the size of your pan you may need to cook in batches.
Slice the meat into strips.
Toss the peppers and onions with a little lime juice and olive oil, salt and pepper. Once the meat is out of the pan and resting, add the peppers and onions, and cook the mixture for 7 to 8 minutes until the vegetables are just barely limp.
While the peppers and onions are cooking, heat up a griddle (cast iron works best) and place each tortilla on the hot griddle for about a minute on each side.
Place a tortilla on a plate and top with enough of the meat/peppers to fill the center of the tortilla. Top with chopped cilantro, avocado slices, sour cream (if desired) and queso fresco (or feta) cheese. Roll to enclose the filling or fold in half. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing.