Fajitas

fajitas with salsa

History Of The Fajita

While the lineage is Mexican fajitas is actually a Texas specialty. The dish dates back to the late 1930's. Fajita comes from the Spanish word "faja" which translates literally to "sashes" and is a reference to the type of meat typically used for fajitas which is skirt steak. The skirt steak cut is the beef's diaphragm muscle and is considered a "less desirable cut". These cuts of beef would be given to the Hispanic ranch hands in lieu of partial payment for work. The men would pound the meat thin then marinate it in lime juice then cook it over a mesquite wood fire. The grilled meat would then be sliced into thin strips and eaten in a warm flour tortilla. The dish was referred to as "tacos de fajitas".

Other Names For Skirt Steak

If you are looking for skirt steak in a Mexican market, the meat may be referred to by one of these names: arrachera, carne para asar ("mean for broiling"), bistec ranchero ("ranch style steak") or fajitas ("sashes").

Steak Fajitas Recipe

fajitas on serving platter
Grilled Fajitas (pronounced fah-HEE-tuhs) are a great meal for a get-together on the patio.  Once the ingredients are prepared each individual can heat their own tortilla on the grill and assemble their fajitas to their liking.

The day before (Optional)

  • Marinate the steak and onions
  • Prepare the Frijoles
  • Make Your Own Tortillas (same day)

Skirt Steak Fajitas

Recipe by Sunset Magazine, Best of 1987.
Serves: 8 -10

Ingredients
  • 3 pounds skirt steak, trimmed of fat
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1/3 cup salad oil (or olive oil)
  • 1/3 cup tequila or lime juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 or 5 small yellow onions (unpeeled), cut in half, lengthwise
  • 8 to 10 green onions with tops, rinsed well and drained
Instructions
  1. Cut the steak crosswise into 12-inch lengths, then place in a 9 X 13 inch dish. In a small bowl, stir together the lime juice, oil, tequila, garlic cumin, oregano, and pepper. Pour over the meat, turn meat to coat. Place the onion halves, cut side down, in marinade alongside the meat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until the next day, turning the meat occasionally.
  2. Tie the green onions together with a string about 3 inches from the roots to form a brush.
  3. Place the onion halves on a grill 4 to 6 inches above a solid bed of hot coals (you should be able to hold your hand at grill level for no more than 2 to 3 seconds.). Cook for about 7 minutes; turn over. Lift meat from the marinade and drain briefly (reserve marinade). Place on grill. Baste meat and onion halves with marinade using green onion roots as a brush. Continue to cook onion halves until browned and slightly soft when pressed, 5 to 9 more minutes. Cook meat, turning once, until browned and done to your liking (cut to test), about 6 minutes for rare. Place meat and onion halves on a carving board as cooked; cover loosely to keep warm.
  4. As the meat cooks, place Frijoles on the grill away from the main heat; stir often until hot.  Roll onion brush in the marinade and lay on the grill. Turn the brush often until tops are wilted, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Place brush on the board; remove string.  Thinly slice the meat across the grain.
  5. Let each person heat their own tortillas on the grill turning often with tongs until soft, 15 to 30 seconds.  (Use caution as they will burn easily).  Place a few meat slices down center of each tortilla; top with some Frijoles, a few pieces from the onion halves, salsa, guacamole, then sour cream and cilantro.  Fold up the bottom, then fold in sides to enclose.  Eat green onions alongside.
  6. Serve with freshly made frijoles, salsa fresca, guacamole, sour cream, and fresh cilantro.

Fajita Serving Suggestions

Frijoles

Cut 4 slices of bacon in 1/2 inch pieces.  Cook in a 2 - 3 quart pan over medium heat, stirring until limp.  Add 1 large onion, chopped, and 2 teaspoons chili powder; stir until onion is soft.  Add 3 cans (about 1 pound each) or 4 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans (drained); add salt to taste.  If made ahead, cover and refrigerate until the next day.  Makes 5 cups.

Salsa Fresca

Core and dice 2 large ripe tomatoes; remove husks and stems from 2 large tomatillos, then chop.  (Or omit tomatillos and use 3 large ripe tomatoes). Combine tomatoes, tomatillos, 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro, and 1 small onion, chopped.  Add 5 to 7 tablespoons seeded, minced fresh hot chilies; 3 to 4 tablespoons lime juice; and salt to taste.  If made ahead, let stand for up to 2 hours.  Makes 4 cups

Core and dice 2 large ripe tomatoes; remove husks and stems from 2 large tomatillos, then chop.  (Or omit tomatillos and use 3 large ripe tomatoes). Combine tomatoes, tomatillos, 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro, and 1 small onion, chopped.  Add 5 to 7 tablespoons seeded, minced fresh hot chilies; 3 to 4 tablespoons lime juice; and salt to taste.  If made ahead, let stand for up to 2 hours.

Guacamole

Click this link for the guacamole recipe.

Other Condiments

  • Sour Cream
  • Fresh cilantro

Fajita Pan

A fajita pan is cast iron and has a short 1/4" lip around the rim.  You can purchase these in Mexican grocery stores or online.

fajita pan

author

Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of GourmetSleuth.com she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.