It's time to put on our big girl panties and conquer the beast.
And by that, I mean to make fajitas. Doesn't sound that scary, right? Well, it has been my biggest cooking challenge thus far because of two reasons. 1) Fajitas are Colton's favorite food. 2) Colton grew up in Dallas, which is basically the capital of delicious Tex-Mex. Double Whammy! So basically, Colton is used to having the best fajitas available in the US, while I had never even eaten a fajita until we started dating.
I fell in love with fajitas as I was falling in love with Colton :)
Anyway, I began to try and make fajitas pretty much as soon as we got married. I had several failed attempts, but finally I came across the lovely Lisa of Homesick Texan, and she led me to the magic.
These are the real deal! (The real deal as far as Tex-Mex goes, anyway.)
Let's get cookin!
(I've been having alot of trouble with the uploader this morning - a few pictures got a little crazy during the upload. Sorry about that!)
We'll begin with the marinade. This recipe is adapted from the homesick texan. I like to do this in the morning so it has plenty of time to soak up all the flavor! Put your meat of choice (I generally use chicken breasts) in a freezer bag and add equal parts of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, enough to just cover the meat. Add the juice of one lime, a few garlic cloves smashed with the side of a knife, a tablespoon or so of cumin, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. If you like things a little spicy, you can add a few pierced peppers or some cayenne.
Shake it up until the marinade looks smooth and stick it in the fridge. Throughout the day, I'll flip it over every few hours to make sure my chicken gets marinated evenly :)
Maybe about an hour before you want to eat, it's time to start the tortillas! I highly encourage homemade tortillas, because they're just lightyears better than what you can buy in a store. These are just like the tortillas I had in Dallas! Fluffy, light, a little chewy, slightly charred. Oh man. This recipe is directly from the Homesick Texan, and it's absolutely perfect. I reworded it a little, but all the credit goes to Lisa!
Stir together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, and 2 tsp vegetable oil in a mixing bowl. Slowly add 3/4 cup warm milk while stirring. Mix until you have a sticky ball, like in the picture above.
Knead until the ball looks smooth. If you find it's sticking to your hand too much, add a little more flour until it's workable. Let rest for 20 minutes under a damp cloth.
While the dough is resting, it's time to make the sides!
I always seed the tomatoes. Tomato seeds wig me out.
You can use the ends to make a nifty little gnat trap. I have a big gnat problem during the summers. This way, I can release them outside.
To make my salsa and pico, I chop roma tomatoes, yellow or white onion, jalapeno, and cilantro. I divide them into two bowls, one for pico and one for salsa. Then I add the juice of half a lime to each, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Taste and tweak the proportions to your liking! I ended up putting a little cayenne in the salsa to give it a little extra spice.
I put the contents of the salsa bowl in the food processor and give it a few pulses to make it smoother! A blender works fine too. Stick both bowls in the fridge, covered in plastic wrap, until time to serve. (I usually wait to make my guacamole until right before serving to prevent browning, but I think that's probably a little paranoid. I'm pretty sure if you did it now it would be just fine. I use two avocados, chopped cilantro, the juice of half a lime, salt and pepper, and a few spoonfulls of pico.)
Once twenty minutes is up on the dough, divide it into eight balls and re-cover. Rest them for 10 minutes.
During that time, chop the vegetable for the fajitas!
Once the ten minutes are up, it's time to roll out the tortillas! Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough balls as evenly as you can on a floured surface. (I used to use a waterglass, but I got a rolling pin yesterday! BIG improvement.)
Get them as thin as you can - don't worry, they'll puff up when you cook them! I spread a little flour on the surface of each tortilla and stack them on a plate, and cover them with a cloth to wait until I'm ready to cook them. After this, I put a can of refried beans in a small pot on low to begin heating up, and I start a small pot of spanish rice. (I just use the little bitty bags that are pre-seasoned! With all these things going on the stove at the same time, I'll take all the shortcuts I can get.)
Once all your tortillas are rolled out and ready, put your chicken in a hot pan with a little oil. Don't move them around! You want them to stay put until they're very browned - I like mine a little scorched, actually! I love that charred crust.
Once the chicken is in the pan, immediately start cooking your tortillas. One at a time, place them in a dry pan over high heat. Wait until they bubble, like above, then flip. It only takes about 30 seconds each side.
This is what you're looking for! After each tortilla is done, stack them on a plate and cover with a cloth to keep them warm.
Keep an eye on your chicken! Flip it when it's nice and brown.
When the chicken is done, remove to a plate and slice. (Dadgum, just look at that. Your fajitas aren't gonna know what hit them!)
Add the veggies to the pan and stir, making sure to get all those brown bits!
Once the veggies are done to your liking, dump the chicken back into the pan to warm up. Quickly make the guacamole during this time if you haven't already, and you're ready to eat!
Serve the fajita mixture with rice and beans, and set out the pico, salsa, guacamole, and some sour cream.
Colton builds his first fajita.
And there's mine!