Friday, February 12, 2016

Carne Asada Fajitas

When I was younger, on the rare occasions that my mother didn't want to make dinner, we would go out to one of three restaurants: Bennigan's, Macaroni Grill, or Chili's. Chili's was a favorite of mine because someone at the table would always order fajitas and I always looked forward to the sizzling pan of meat and peppers being brought out and presented to the table. That sound will forever be one of my favorites.

Accompanying the fajitas was a little round tortilla warmer that always contained just three tortillas. We, as a family, always found it mind boggling that the pan had enough meat for probably five or six fajitas and my mom said it was because they were being cheap. So, as soon as the food was brought over, she'd immediately ask for more tortillas. Making fajitas at home means that we overcompensate by making a ton of each ingredient so that we won't run out of anything which is why I think dining in is the best.

At first I thought it was weird that I hadn't shared any fajita recipes on my blog yet, but then I realized that we don't really eat them all that often. We eat skirt steak with rice & beans and tortillas all the time but I always call that a taco or a weird burrito. I don't know what the official definition is, but I call it a fajita whenever the meat has a chili pepper seasoning and there are fried onions and peppers alongside the meat.

Oh, and by the way, I know Valentine's Day is this weekend and I think that if a guy gave me some sizzling meat (pun intended?) I would find it super romantic. What I'm trying to say is that you should make carne asada fajitas to celebrate with your honey or for Galentine's Day or just because you want to and not because you buy into this Hallmark holiday.
Ingredients [serves 4 to 6]:
marinated meat
2 lbs. flap meat or skirt steak
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon clementine zest
2 tablespoons lime juice
¼ cup clementine juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
2 teaspoons chipotle chili flakes
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
¼ cup olive oil

fajitas
1½ to 2 dozen tortillas (flour or corn)
½ red onion, sliced
½ sweet onion, sliced
1 bell peppers, sliced
pico de gallo
guacamole
lime wedges
hot sauce

To make the marinade, combine the lime zest, clementine zest, lime juice, clementine juice, garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder, coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper, ancho chili flakes, Worcestershire, chopped cilantro, and olive oil.
Pour the marinade over the beef - I used sirloin steak tips a.k.a. flap meat, but skirt steak or sirloin steak are great too - and let the beef marinate for 3 hours at room temperature.
When you're ready to start cooking, slice up a bell pepper (I used half a yellow bell pepper and half a orange pepper for variety), half a red onion, and half a white onion (again, for variety).
Heat up a skillet over medium high. When the pan is hot, lay in the pieces of beef and cook to the desired doneness. I like a medium rare to rare doneness so I cooked my steaks for about 4 minutes on each side. The cooking time will also depend on the thickness of the meat.
When the beef is done, remove to a cutting board to rest for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the onions and peppers in the same pan until they're soft and lightly caramelized. Add in any remaining marinade to further season the vegetables, if desired.
When the meat has rested, slice it against the grain and then nestle it back into the pan with the peppers and onions. Obviously, the food can be served on a plate, but to recreate the memories of the sizzling Chili's pan, I like to serve on my little griddle pan.
I had made some pico de gallo ahead of time and whipped up a fresh batch of guacamole to accompany the meal. Other delicious additions you could serve: black beans & rice, shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped cilantro, lime wedges, diced tomatoes, diced onion,
I love Mexican meals because they're so colorful. I assembled my fajita by laying guacamole directly on the tortilla, nestled on some peppers, onions, and beef, and then piled some pico de gallo on top. Oh, and of course, I drizzled on some hot sauce.

I love these so much. The marinade tenderizes the meat and adds tremendous flavor. The acid from the limes, the sweetness from the clementines, the brightness from the citrus zest, the fragrant spices, the spicy spices, and the savoriness of the Worcestershire combine beautifully and make this a thousand times better than any restaurant fajita (sorry, Chili's).
Here's the recipe page:

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