Whenever a plate of fajitas walks out in a restaurant, everyone around you is immediately jealous. And they should be. Fajitas are freaking good.
And they’re very easy to make. For years, I used to buy those Fajita seasoning packets when making this dish because I didn’t want to mess with figuring out the spices myself. Then one day when watching Guy’s Big Bite, he made simple fajitas with cumin and lime, and I was hooked. You didn’t need many ingredients at all! So I stopped spending a buck on the packets and started buying lime and cilantro instead (you can skip the cilantro if it’s not your thing).
I’ve adjusted the original recipe and the steps to my liking and here are the results. Casey loves coming home from work to the smell of sizzling peppers and onions. And no one feels jealous, cause we all get to enjoy the goodness.
* This recipe uses chicken, you can also use shrimp or steak.
Juice of 2 Limes
2 Tbl Rice Vinegar (substitute Apple cider vinegar if you’re out)
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 tsp Cumin
1-2 Tbl finely chopped jalapeno pepper
1-2 Tbl finely chopped cilantro
Serves appx 4 people
Appx 8 boneless chicken tenders or 4 chicken breasts, thawed and cut into bite-size pieces.
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 onion (or less if preferred), cut into rings/strips
Cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce or cabbage, salsa, cilantro
Okay, start by preparing your vegetables, chicken, and marinade. Cut up one onion and two bell peppers into strips. I prefer using one red and one green pepper but if red peppers are out of the budget for the week, just use green. Still tastes great.
And, if you’re not a big onion person (me), it’s best to still include them for flavor but you can pick some out later when done cooking.
For the chicken I either:
* buy frozen chicken tenders because they’re easy to thaw and use when I need them.
* buy a large pack of boneless chicken breasts when they’re on sale. I cut them into pieces that day and freeze it all in 3 or 4 separate bags of chicken labeled “fajitas”. Then I’m all ready to go!
You need approximately 8 chicken tenders or 4 breasts, cut into small strip-like pieces.
Place the peppers and onions in one bag together and the chicken in another bag. Something my mom taught me: use the produce bag that the veggies were wrapped in. You’re recycling and it’s free!
Leave those aside and prepare the simple marinade.
Squeeze the juice from two limes. When in a bind you can substitute store-bought lime juice from a bottle, or lemon juice as well…but fresh limes are best.
Mix the lime juice, vinegar, salt, pepper, and cumin. The cumin is what makes this dish. I absolutely love the smell.
For added flavor and heat, add 1-2 Tbl of finely chopped fresh jalapeno.
And if you’re a cilantro person (people either love it or despise it), add 1-2 Tbl of finely chopped cilantro.
Mix everything together and you have a simple marinade.
Now pour half the marinade over the pepper/onion mix,
and the other half over the chicken.
Fill each bag with air and shake it all around to make sure everything is coated. Do this over your kitchen sink in case anything leaks or pops.
And place both bags in in a bowl to marinate for 30 minutes or longer. If you’re going to cook them soon, they can be left on the countertop otherwise place them in the refrigerator.
Now let’s start sizzling!
Using a large frying pan, heat a small amount of cooking oil. Pour in the contents of the pepper bag (it’s okay if the liquid goes in too) and let everything cook for about 5 minutes. If there are too many peppers, do it in two batches. I usually let the liquid help steam the veggies for a few minutes and then drain the liquid off in the sink so the veggies will brown in the pan. The key is to cook them enough that they’re not raw, but not too much so they still have bite. Similar to al dente.
Put the cooked peppers and onions aside on a plate. And clean your pan slightly with water in the sink to remove any black residue from cooking the peppers.
Now let’s cook the chicken. Just as you cooked the peppers, heat a bit of oil in the pan and then add the chicken. I try not to let the marinade liquid get into the pan because the chicken tends to release it’s own liquids. But no big deal if some slips in.
Let it all cook for a few minutes.
Then drain off any liquids in the sink and add a bit more oil (if needed) so the chicken can brown in the pan.
Finally, add the peppers and onions back into the mix and warm for a minute.
And you’re done!
If you’re a good multi-tasker, prepare the toppings while the fajitas cook.
You’ll need taco-size flour tortillas. If you can find fresh baked tortillas from your bakery or local Mexican restaurant do it. They’re divine.
Chop up some tomatoes. If you’re a pico de gallo person, mix some on up and use that for your salsa.
I love using cucumbers on my tacos. They add such a refreshing bite.
Chop up cilantro for the cilantro lovers.
and grate your favorite cheese. I go back and forth between Sharp Cheddar and Colby Jack.
Chop up cabbage or lettuce, pour salsa in a bowl, and get out the sour cream.
Your toppings are ready!
Cut up fresh mangos or oranges as a side dish and call everyone over to the table.
Time for fajitas!
Of course, cheese is my favorite part of any meal, so we also throw some cheese crisps in the oven (tortillas, cheese, and bake).
Now who’s jealous?
Not you! Your pan is sizzling.