From their humble beginnings, fajitas have caught on like a prairie fire fanning out from South Texas. Originally the food that farm laborers along the border prepared for themselves from the trimmings their bosses gave them, fajitas are made in the Southwest from relatively inexpensive skirt steak. In the North an East, one often has to settle for beef bottom round, which must be cut into very thin slices. The authentic smoky flavor comes from marinating the beef in lime juice and garlic and grilling it over mesquite, which for this recipe is optional but preferable. Fajitas are traditionally served on sizzling steak platters on top of sauteed slivered onions and tricolored bell peppers, accompanied by warm flour tortillas and sauced with peppery hot Pico de Gallo and sour cream.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
2 pounds beef skirt steak or very lean scaloppine-cut bottom round steak
Juice of 2 limes
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup vegetable oil, plus additional oil for frying
2 large red onions, halved vertically, then cut into slivers
1 each large red, green and yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
Pico de Gallo
Guacamole, if desired
18 (6-inch) flour tortillas, warmed
1. Trim the steaks, removing any fat and sinew. Pound as thin as possible between sheets of plastic wrap.
2. Combine lime juice, garlic, salt and a generous amount of pepper in a shallow bowl; whisk in oil. Add steak pieces; roll and turn to get maximum amount absorbed into the meat. Marinate at room temperature 30 minutes or refrigerate 2 hours.
3. Preheat grill, using mesquite wood or chips for an authentic flavor.
4. Lightly brush onion halves and pepper pieces with a bit of oil. Start grilling vegetables about 20 to 25 minutes before starting meat. When done, slice into ½ strips and toss together and keep warm.
5. Grill beef strips about 3 inches from coals until charred on each side but still rare in the center. Cut into strips about 1 inch wide. To serve, divide onions and peppers on each plate and place steak strips on top. Pass a napkin-lined basket with hot tortillas and bowls of Pico de Gallo and Guacamole, if using.
Pan=sauté the onions and peppers, cutting them into strips before cooking using minimal oil, coking only until slight crisp.
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