Monday, April 26, 2010

Chicken Fajitas

I apologize if you’re tired of hearing me gush about Tastespotting, but it truly is the best website ever.  I don’t necessarily use or even look at the recipes; the pictures are enough inspiration on their own.  As a cook, it’s easy to get boxed in by your own inherent tastes.  You develop a moderate sized repertoire of dishes that you like and you do well, and that’s about all you cook.  Tastespotting can free you of this cycle.  You browse the pictures; you drool a little; you roll your eyes at stupid captions; eventually, you see something that is outside of your repertoire, but you unconsciously always wanted to make.  Recently, it was fajitas.  I saw a picture of some lovely chicken fajitas, and I could not figure out why I never make them.  I saw the picture on Monday, with a plan to make fajitas on Friday night.  They were the light at the end of my weeklong tunnel.  I did look at the recipe accompanying the inspiring photo, but I wasn’t thrilled.  So I made one up.  Fajitas are pretty straight forward, and mine came out quite well.  If you made up a recipe for fajitas, I’m sure they would be tasty, too.  But I owe Tastespotting for planting the idea in my brain. 
My fajitas were made with thinly sliced chicken, onion, and poblano peppers.  The mixture was marinated in a kitchen-sink-type of situation:  lime juice, lemon juice, chili powder, cumin, hot pepper flakes, garlic, oregano, thyme, Frank’s red hot, and oil.  The only thing I would do differently is reduce the oil, and add some fresh jalapeno.  They were certainly tasty after bathing in all of that olive oil, but I don’t think I would have missed it.  I decided to pull out the big guns, and make my own condiments: grape tomato pico de gallo, and guacamole.  Both were simple and tasty, and basically comprised of the same ingredients, swapping tomatoes and avocados.  Next time you’re looking to have a raging Friday night, you may hear chicken fajitas calling your name. 
Chicken Fajitas

Juice of 2 limes
Juice of ½ lemon
3 tablespoons Frank’s Red Hot sauce
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup oil (I used a mix of olive oil and canola.  Next time I’d try just using a ¼ cup)

1-1¼ chicken breast, sliced thin
1 poblano pepper, sliced thin
1 onion, sliced thin

Pico de Gallo:
1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
1½ tablespoons finely diced red onion
½ large jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of one lime
Salt and pepper

2 ripe avocados, diced
1½ tablespoons finely diced red onion
½ large jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of one lemon
A few splashes of Frank’s red hot sauce

Flour tortillas
Shredded cheese

·      Prep your chicken, poblano, and onion.  Add to a gallon sized Ziploc bag.
·      Make the marinade by whisking together all of the ingredients besides the oil.  When everything is well incorporated, slowly whisk in the oil.  Pour the marinade over the chicken mixture.
·      Seal the bag, and allow the marinade to evenly distribute throughout the bag.  Marinate the mixture in the refrigerator, turning the bag every 15 minutes or so.  Marinate for at least an hour. [I recommend stowing the bag in a baking dish, rather than directly on your refrigerator shelf in case there is a leak.]
·      In the meantime, prepare the pico de gallo by combining all listed ingredients.  Do this about ½ hour before you are ready to start cooking the chicken to let the flavors combine.
·      Just before you are ready to cook, prepare the guacamole by mixing all of the ingredients.  The easiest way to prepare the avocado:
o   Carefully cut the avocado in half by moving your knife slowly around the seed. 
o   Once halved, hold the avocado in your palm and give the seed a careful whack with your knife.  The knife should go into the avocado about a ¼ inch so you are able to pull out the seed from the flesh. 
o   Then carefully remove the seed from the blade (if this scares you, you can scoop it out with a big spoon, but you’ll lose some of your avocado).
o   While still in the skin, cross hatch the avocado flesh with your knife, and then scoop out the cubes with a large spoon.
·      Then add everything else to the avocado, and stir to combine, mashing the avocado slightly, until you’ve reached your desired consistency.
·      When you’re ready to cook the chicken, preheat a large skillet (preferably non-stick), dry, over high heat. 
·      When it is HOT (after about 3-5 minutes), add the chicken, peppers, and onions in an even layer (use tongs, instead of dumping the contents of the bag into the pan, so you leave the excess oil in the bag).
·      Cook, stirring frequently until the chicken is cooked through and the peppers and onions have softened.
·      When the chicken is ready, heat tortillas by wrapping them in paper towel, lightly sprinkled with water, and heat in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.
·      Serve chicken with tortillas, shredded cheese, pico de gallo, and guacamole. 


  1. A dish I never would've thought to make at home, but you made it look fast and fun. Your avocado's were beautiful, hell all the food looked beautiful. Cheese? is that standard on fajitas? I said I never made them at home, but I've never even ordered them in a restaurant

  2. I let those avocados ripen in a paper bag for 2 days. I highly recommend the paper bag trip. I can't say for sure that cheese is standard on fajitas because I'm no fajita expert. But I can say that cheese is standard in the psycho kitchen, thus the decision was made for me.

  3. perused tastespotting today and super like it -- thanks for the tip. I'd love to see Psycho recipes there, it could help bring in new readers, because PC deserves a wide audience