This makes perfect sense as the skirt steak is sort of belt shaped, and when you use chicken you generally cut it into little strips. As skirt steak gets more popular, and therefore more expensive, chicken is quickly replacing beef as the more common ingredient for fajitas.
The key to making good chicken fajitas is marination. Although just cooking chicken with peppers and onions tastes alright, why settle for alright? I like to make a marinade based on lime juice. Lime really compliments the flavor of both the meat and the veggies. A potential problem, though, is that lime will actually cook the meat, so the chicken can only marinade for 1 to 3 hours.
Another important part is to cook the peppers and onions very quickly and not for too long. The delicious flavor in the veggies is from quick caramelization of the natural sugars, while keeping them crisp.
Chicken Fajita Marinade
¼ cup vegetable oil, not olive oil as it will burn
1 ounce fresh lime juice
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely minced (optional)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black or white pepper
½ tablespoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
1 ½ pounds chicken, sliced thin (about the size of your pinkie finger)
Mix all of the ingredients except the chicken. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Add the chicken and make sure to coat it well. Store in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, but not more than 3 hours, as the lime juice will start to cook the chicken, making the final result tough.
3 bell peppers, seeded and cut into strips
1 onion, cut into strips
8-12 flour tortillas
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided in half
Hot sauce, optional
Salt and pepper to taste
Mexican chicken fajitas step by step recipes
Start by “baking” the tortillas. Heat a heavy skillet to a medium heat. Place a tortilla in the skillet for about 1 minute, then flip and repeat. We are just looking to heat the tortilla, not crisp it. I like to use my hands for this so I don’t tear the tortilla. Bake all the tortillas, then stack them on a plate, covering with a towel to keep warm. I don’t use any oil when I bake my tortillas, they tend to get greasy if you do.
I like to do this part as a 2 step process, the end result is worth the extra step. Heat a heavy skillet or sauté pan to a medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil (remember, not olive, unless it’s blended). Drain excess marinade from the chicken and add to the skillet. You should be prepared to stir the chicken quite often. You want to get good color on the chicken without burning or over cooking it.
Here’s the extra step part, remove the chicken from the pan when it is just cooked, before it can dry out. Allow the pan to get good and hot again, it’s ok if the pan starts to smoke or appear to burn. Add the remaining oil, peppers, onions, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a dash of hot sauce. Stir vigorously, scraping the bottom as you go. The veggies are done when they start to get good color, and before they start to go limp. Add the chicken back to the pan, stir and kill the heat.
Making this part a 2 step process really allows you to get the most flavor out of the veggies without overcooking either the veggies or the chicken, but if you are in a hurry everything can be cooked together.
I like to keep the chicken and veggies in the skillet, placed on a trivet on the table, so everyone can make their own fajita. You can serve them with shredded cheese, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, black beans, or anything else, the possibilities are endless. Enjoy!