The California Dish

Food, like love, should be entered into with abandon, or not at all

Sunday, July 3, 2011

4th of July Party Recipes - Chicken & Beef Fajitas

Well, our party was a hit. We wiggled two families into our back patio area for an afternoon of water and watermelon.

We swam, ate, talked, relaxed, and swam some more.

 The highlight was definitely when 4 little munchkins asked to be spun around on floaties in the pool. And the squirt guns. And showing off our garden. And swinging in the hammock with Becky. It was a lot of fun!

Grilled Tequila Lime Chicken Fajitas with Mango Salsa!

As promised, here are recipes for the fajitas I made last night. They were a hit. First, Chipotle Flank Steak Fajitas that I borrowed from the Pioneer Woman. Her recipe goes a little something like this.

Chipotle Marinade
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 2 whole Limes, Juiced
  • 4 whole Canned Chipotle Peppers, With A Little Sauce
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Peeled
  • 1 whole Handful Of Cilantro
Toss these lovely ingredients into a blender and whirl for 30 seconds or until all have properly pureed together into one spicy, messy, red and green dotted soup. Then pour this mixture into a gallon-sized ziploc bag with your flank steak. (I used about 2 pounds but you could probably add up to three with this amount of marinade.) I added a teaspoon or so of salt and didn't peel the garlic (it didn't seem to matter since it was all being pureed anyway. Sometimes I'm a little lazy that way!).

***WARNING*** This marinade gives this beef a little kick, so tone down the chipotle peppers if you want it a little milder.

Grill the flank steak to your preference - rare, medium rare, or well done. We went with well done and it was mighty fine and tasty!

Tequila Lime Chicken Fajitas
This recipe is lovely. One bite and you'll know what I'm talking about. Hints of garlic and lime peak through with explosions of cilantro. Again, I borrowed this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten.

  • 1/2 cup gold tequila
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (5 to 6 limes)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh jalapeno pepper (1 pepper seeded)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 whole (6 split) boneless chicken breasts, skin on
I did a few things differently. I added an entire cup of Tequila (whoops!), replaced the orange juice with lemonade (citrus+sugar), couldn't find any chili powder so I added chili flakes (the kind you see in pizza parlors), and used boneless, skinless breasts instead. I also added a whole bunch of cilantro because it begged me to join the party. And who am I to turn down a talking herb?

If you have never marinated chicken or fish in citrus, you will notice that it changes the texture. Cooking is all about chemically altering our food. We add salt to break down cell walls so that flavors reach our tongues more quickly. Citrus will also do this (which is why lemon juice can often perk something up if you can't add more salt to something). Dry heat (ovens, grills) cooks differently than wet heat (braising, boiling).

I marinated 4 large chicken breasts in this marinade overnight. When I pulled it out, the breasts no longer looked pink but white. I wish I had taken a picture to show you. Ceviche works the same way - add a little citrus to raw fish and Presto Chango the fish starts to "cook," or more accurately, change ever so slightly on a chemical level. This is what happens when you marinate protein in citrus, so don't be alarmed if your chicken looks white instead of pink. The result is highly flavored, tender, juicy meat. Throw those breasts on the grill and pretty soon they will be white through and through.

Look at all that lovely cilantro! So glad I gave in to her!
Then slice it up!

And put it on a taco!

I also sauteed some bell peppers and onions in a skillet the night before. During the party, while heating tortillas and making quesadillas, I reheated the veggies. It went faster that way. My friend Michelle also made a fantastic bowl of Mango Salsa. I think she used this recipe. It has 5 ingredients and it tastes even better after its been sitting for a while and flavors have a chance to meld together.


Happy 4th of July!

1 comment: