RECIPE #262, DAY #440
ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Fajitas in a Flash” from Desperation Dinners by Mill and Ross*
TIMING: 20 minutes
DIFFICULTY: Easy, but the more experienced you are with meat, the better this will turn out
TOOLS: A wide skillet and some other basic things, including tongs
COOK TYPE: Stovetop
HEALTH: This is a great, healthy dinner that doesn’t feel like you’re trying to be all granola. If you just make the simple swap for a high-quality, whole-grain tortillas (including corn), you will be riding high on a quick, weeknight meal. This is full of protein, vitamins and nutrients, fiber, etc. You have your meat, your veggies, and your whole grains, as well as optional dairy. It’s a food pyramid delight. Serve it with a green salad and fresh fruit and you win a gold medal.
EXPERIENCE: I made this for the first time years ago, and scribbled an emphatic “Thumbs Up!” in the margin. I am not going to complain about how easy this comes together on a weeknight or how much my family liked it. What I will point out, though, is that the result is not really fajitas. Not even really fajitas with shortcuts. Which is why I re-named these “Fajita Tacos.”
You see, for me, fajitas need to be piping hot (to the point of sizzling) and–even more importantly–charred, like how you might get from an open flame or a searing hot cast iron pan. Instead, the meat here is as much simmered as it is sauteed in its savory sauce, so you end up with something more like extra-umami street tacos containing the makings of steak fajitas (peppers, onion, and the gang). Oh, and with almost no authentic ingredients. And that’s okay, too. But not fajitas.
NOTES: Cast iron would work nice here. I contemplated throwing the meat on the grill or griddle, but then I would have needed an extra pan for the veggies and sauce. Hmm…
- Heat 2 tablespoons safflower oil in a wide saute pan over high heat until hot. Add 1 pound thin-sliced stir-fry beef (like skirt steak). Stir-fry until medium, then remove to a platter.
- Reduce heat only slightly, and add to the pan 1/3 cup red wine, 2 tablespoons molasses, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, juice of 1/2 lemon, juice of 1/2 lime, and 1 pressed garlic clove. Bring to a boil and add 1 onion cut into strips. Cook 1 minute, then add 1-2 bell peppers, cut into strips. Cook another 3 minutes or so, until veggies are tender and sauce has reduced by half. Taste for seasonings.
- Add the veggies to your meat platter and sprinkle with sliced scallion and minced cilantro. Serve with tortillas, lime wedges, queso fresco (or queso fundido), hot sauce, and optional shredded lettuce and/or diced tomato (or halved baby heirloom tomatoes, as pictured here).
Serve, as stated in the recipe, as street tacos with all the fixings. You could go refried beans and Spanish rice, or even a green salad and tropical fruit.
*Recipe has been changed from the original.