Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cilantro-Lime Chicken Fajitas

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As I was making these I wondered what made them fajitas and not chicken soft tacos. I decided it must be the onions and bell peppers; anytime I see fajitas in a picture or at a restaurant there are onions and bell peppers. Is it authentic? Who knows. (Are fajitas authentic?) But I do know my fajitas have to have the sauteed veggies :)

Lime zest and juice give this marinade it's great flavor. The lime zest makes it pretty "lime-y", so if you like a more subdued flavor, you can use less, or no, zest. The easiest way to zest a lime (or any citrus) is by using a rasp. I used to use my smallest cheese grater, but the rasp does a much better job of scraping off the zest and leaving the bitter pith behind. Zest your limes before you juice them to make using the rasp easier.

Cilantro-Lime Chicken Fajitas
Printable Recipe

for the marinade
1 tablespoon lime zest
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from 3-4 limes)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup lightly packed cilantro

for the veggies
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled, halved pole-to-pole, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
3 bell peppers, seeded and sliced 1/4-inch thick (I used one each, red, yellow, green)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 lbs chicken tenders (or boneless breast or boneless thigh)

1. Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a large glass measuring cup and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. OR combine all of the marinade ingredients in a blender canister and blend until smooth.

2. Put the chicken in a gallon-sized zip-top bag. Add the marinade, press out the extra air, and seal the bag. Put the bag in some kind of dish to catch any drips or leaks, and put it in the fridge to marinate for at least 3 hours and no longer than 8 hours; flip the bag a couple times while the chicken marinates if you're around, don't worry about it if you're not. Take the chicken out of the fridge 20 minutes before you want to cook it.

My little helper insisted on holding the dish still for the picture :)

3. Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the oil and let it heat for 10 seconds. Add the onion, bell pepper, and salt, and cook, stirring often, until they've developed some nice color and char marks, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and cook, stirring often, for 10-15 more minutes. Set aside.

4. Heat your grill (I use a gas grill) until it is smoking-hot, 450-500 deg. It was snowing when I grilled these, so I could only get my grill up to about 425 before I got impatient ;) Scrape your grill grate to remove any residue from your last grilled meal, and use long-handled tongs to wipe the grate *liberally* with an oil-soaked paper towel. These two things, a well-oiled, super-hot grill, are what keep your meat from sticking.

5. Grill the chicken tenders 3-7 minutes on the first side, flip them over and grill them an additional 3-7 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through and you've got some nice char. I know "3-7 minutes" is a huge range, but it really depends on how hot your grill is. Start checking the meat at the 3-minute mark and then watch it carefully.

6. Slice the meat across the grain, and assemble your fajitas with the sauteed onions and peppers, and some salsa. I also used shredded lettuce, but that didn't make nice pictures ;)

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