Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Fajitas: Another Tex-Mex Favorite


Ah, yet another post about Tex-Mex food.  I just can't help myself.  I'm a proud Texan and I'm proud of our food.  Please forgive me for my constant ramblings about Tex-Mex food.

So let me give you a piece of history about fajitas.  Maybe as early as the 1930s, ranchers would butcher the cattle and give the undesired pieces of meat to the vaqueros, which is a Spanish word for cowboys.  One of these cuts of meat was skirt steak.  The vaqueros would cook the meat over a fire and eat it in tortillas.  Their secret remained secret for many years. The Oxford dictionary added the term in the '70s, and that was when the fajita started gaining popularity.  Sonny Falcon, an Austin meat market manager, is rumored to have started the first fajita/taco stands debuting at fairs and festivals around Texas.  Famous restaurants like Ninfa's started adding fajitas to their menus.  There was even a serious study of the history of the fajita done by Homero Recio from Texas A&M in 1984. Interesting stuff, huh.

No matter where they came from, they are great tortilla stuffers and known in most households.  And, as far as the skirt steak, if you're from another part of the country and you prefer flank steak or can't get skirt steak, use what you like.  I've had it both ways, and they're both good. Remember, my recipes are guidelines, not exact science.  Change parts you want to or leave parts out altogether.  I'm a big fan of adapting recipes to suit my tastes and my family's tastes.  I want you to do you and I'll do me.  It will help you become a better cook and teach you to experiment.  And I used a packet of something called Sazon.  It's a Mexican seasoned salt.  If you can't get that where you live, just use a tablespoon of a seasoned salt, like Lawry's.

Get ready to hear that sizzling plate of fajitas!  Can you smell how good they smell?

BEEF FAJITAS
MARINADE:
Juice of one orange
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
1/4 C lime juice
2 T soy sauce
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T onion powder
1 T paprika
Cayenne pepper (as much or little as you like)
1 packet of Sazon seasoning (or 1 T seasoned salt, like Lawry's)
1 lb skirt steak

FOR THE FAJITAS:
Marinated meat
Bell peppers
Onion slices
Olive oil
Flour tortillas

GARNISHES:
Shredded cheese
Guacamole
Salsa
Sour cream

At least two hours (longer is desireable) before grilling the meat, make the marinade.  Mix all of the ingredients except the meat in a bowl.  Put the skirt steak in a large zipper bag and pour in the marinade.  Let it sit in the fridge until ready to cook.

To prepare the bell peppers, cut the tops and the bottoms off of the pepper.  Cut along the four sides (assuming there are four) to remove the outer skin and leaving the seeds and ribs behind.  For the onion, cut the whole onion into slices (see the picture above).

30 minutes before starting to cook the meat, prepare you grill.  Brush olive oil on the grate of the grill and start your coals.  When your coals are ready, place the bell peppers and onion slices on the grill.  Cook about 4-5 minutes on each side over direct heat, keeping a close eye on them.  They are done when they are tender.   Cook the meat for about 2 minutes on each side.  Slice the peppers and onions.

To serve, slice the meat against the grain, meaning don't cut with the lines in the meat.  Cut across them.  Serve in tortillas with the garnishes of your choice.

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