Everyone has recipes that they generally try to fall back on time and again. I know for me, I very often make things like meatloaf, hamburgers or roasted chicken and just try to vary things up in different ways each time I do it so we do not get bored with the same old recipe. Such is the case with chicken fajitas. I have been making different types of fajitas for years because it has always been a family favorite. We vary the protein used-sometimes beef, sometimes shrimp, sometimes chicken-but the rest of the recipe always seems to stay pretty much the same. I was looking for something a little bit different this time to spice things up and get a little more flavor out of the dish when I came across this recipe at New York Times Cooking from Martha Shulman. This recipe adds a little bit more spice than some of the other usual recipes I have seen and it sounded like it was a good one to try.
Finely grated zest of 1 lime (about 2 teaspoons)
¼ cup fresh lime juice
Salt and black pepper
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground
2 tablespoons adobo sauce from canned chipotles in adobo
1 chipotle chile in adobo, seeded and minced (optional)
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced or put through a press
1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 large red or yellow onion, halved and sliced
2 red bell peppers (or 1 red and 1 orange or yellow), seeded and sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 jalapeño or 2 Serrano chiles, minced
¼ cup chopped cilantro
4 large flour or 8 corn tortillas
1 tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil (or use olive oil)
1 romaine heart, sliced crosswise
Salsa, for serving
Queso fresco or other cheese, for sprinkling
Guacamole, for serving
Sour Cream, for serving
In a small bowl, combine the lime zest and lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, the adobo sauce and optional minced chipotle, 1/4 cup of olive oil and half the garlic. Mix the ingredients well. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the marinade.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place it in a resealable bag. Pour in the marinade and seal the bag. Move the chicken around to coat it well with the marinade, place the bag in a bowl and refrigerate it for 30 minutes (or up to 12 hours). Flip the bag over from time to time to redistribute the marinade.
Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook, stirring, until they soften and begin to color, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the bell peppers and chile and cook, stirring, until the peppers begin to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Turn the heat to medium, add the remaining garlic and cumin and salt to taste, and cook, stirring often, until the peppers are nicely seared, softened and beginning to caramelize, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Pour in the reserved 2 tablespoons of the marinade and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan. Add half the cilantro, and stir the ingredients together. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Remove the mixture from the heat but keep it warm.
Wrap the tortillas in foil and warm them in a low temperature oven, or wrap them in a towel and warm them in a steamer or in the microwave.
Heat the grapeseed or canola oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy skillet. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade, reserving the marinade, and pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels. Add the chicken to the pan, rounded side down, and sear the breasts for about 3 to 4 minutes, until they are lightly charred. Flip the breasts over, pour in the marinade, cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the chicken for about 12 to 15 minutes, flipping the breasts over from time to time, until a thermometer registers 160 to 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part. Transfer the chicken breasts to a cutting board and cover them with foil. Let the chicken sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then cut the breasts across the grain into 1/2 – to 3/4-inch thick strips.
Arrange the romaine lettuce on a platter, then place the chicken next to lettuce. Tip the juices from cutting board over the chicken and sprinkle the chicken with cilantro. Serve the vegetables on the same platter or separately. Serve with warm tortillas, salsa and crumbled queso fresco or other cheese, guacamole and sour cream.
I made one slight change to the recipe as I went along and added the sliced chicken back into the pan with the vegetables so that everything could mix together and the flavors could meld, but other than that, I followed it as is. These fajitas are a bit spicier than what you might usually have because of the adobo sauce, which is usually spicy on its own even if you just use a little bit. I did add any chopped chipotle to the dish because I thought the heat might be too much for everyone, but if you like spicy then you should go for it. This recipe had the best flavor of any fajitas recipe I have tried before and I think the sauce makes a real difference in giving flavor in the marinade to the chicken and the vegetables. I think the marinade would work just as well with beef if you wanted to try it and you can certainly substitute chicken thighs for breasts if you prefer. The recipe makes plenty and we even had some leftover that I was able to have for lunch the next day. Serve the fajitas with any of your favorite fixings – lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, different cheeses – and you could even double the recipe if you are serving a big crowd. This one certainly went over well at our house so I’ll be using it again.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, Enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!