Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas

Necessity is the mother of invention. — old adage

It’s remarkable how limited food choices were when I was growing up (back in the stone age). I lived near a decent-sized city, but there was precious little food variety available. Not that I knew of, anyway. Well, there was a fancy Indonesian restaurant where I once got food poisoning, but I don’t want to count that! I don’t think I ever had Chinese food (not even the fast-food take-out variety) until my sister moved to New York City.

Lucky for me, I already knew how to use chopsticks, thanks to my mom. Sometimes she made Sweet and Sour Pork. We always ate it with chopsticks Mom brought back from Toronto or San Francisco or someplace. I considered it an exotic treat at the time, though my palate today finds that recipe a bit bland. 

I remember my first introduction to spicy food quite well. When I was about twelve, my dad had a friend who’d recently moved from San Antonio. He introduced us to La Victoria’s Salsa Jalapeña, and it’s still one of my favorites. My dad had ulcers, which back then were thought to be caused or worsened by stress and spicy food. His friend claimed the heat would “cauterize” the ulcers. More recent research has shown that ulcers are caused not by chiles, but by a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. And guess what? It’s a lot less common in populations that consume a lot of hot chiles. So Dad’s friend was onto something. Capsaicin, the chemical that makes chiles spicy, actually creates a stomach environment that’s inhospitable to H. pylori. It suppresses acid and stimulates gastric blood flow, among other things. You can read more here if you’re interested. 

Back in the day, when I was juggling a demanding career and three young children, I sometimes bought fajita kits from the local grocery store. I did love to cook, always have, but didn’t always have the time to make dinner from scratch. The kits were good, though not spectacular, and we all enjoyed the fajitas. They were only available intermittently, and eventually not at all. Unwilling to give up on a meal all five of us actually agreed on, I started making them myself using a commercial fajita seasoning blend. When I downsized my spice collection, I eliminated most of the seasoning blends in favor of making my own. It only takes a minute or two. It’s a great way to keep things fresh since I use up individual spices far more quickly than blends. 

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Ingredients:

1 lime

2 tablespoons (1 batch) Homemade Fajita Seasoning, or your favorite commercial blend

1 lb. (454 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast. You can save some time by buying the thin-sliced ones, or save a little money by doing it yourself. 

1 red bell pepper 

1 medium onion

1 small bunch fresh cilantro

2 Tbsp olive oil

½ cup (120 ml) water

flour tortillas (substitute large lettuce leaves for low-carb version)

Preparation:

1.) Juice the lime. Combine the fajita seasoning and lime juice in a medium bowl. 

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2.) Cut the chicken into strips, perpendicular to the grain.

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3.) Stir the chicken into the seasoning and juice mixture. Let sit at room temperature for half an hour. 

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4.) Slice the pepper and onion into strips; set aside. Finely chop the cilantro; set aside separately.

5.) Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding, brown the chicken on both sides. It’s not necessary to cook it through just yet. Transfer each batch to a bowl as it finishes browning. You know not to reuse that bowl for serving, right? Always use a clean dish for serving. 

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6.) When all the chicken is done browning, add the remaining oil to the pan with the onions and peppers. Cook several minutes, just until the vegetables begin to soften and brown.

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7.) Pour in any remaining marinade, along with the water. Bring to a boil, scraping up all the yummy browned bits from the bottom of the pan. 

8.) Return the chicken to the pan; mix well. Let everything simmer until the chicken is cooked through and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. I took the photo a bit early — there’s still a fair amount of liquid left to evaporate.

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9.) Spread some of the filling in a strip down the middle of a soft tortilla*, leaving a finger-breadth or two bare at one end.  Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

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Fold the bare end up over the filling,

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then one side, 

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then the other. 

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Serve with a side of guacamole and some sour cream. I usually substitute plain, non-fat Greek yogurt for the sour cream. It tastes nearly identical and is a lot healthier for you. 

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*Please note, the nutrition information chart does not include the tortilla, guac, or sour cream/yogurt. If you’d like an even lower-carb, lower-calorie meal, try wrapping the filling in a large lettuce leaf instead of a tortilla. 

Chicken Fajita Filling

Ingredients

1 lime

2 tablespoons (1 batch) Homemade Fajita Seasoning, or your favorite commercial blend

1 lb. (454 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast. You can save some time by buying the thin-sliced ones, or save a little money by doing it yourself.

1 red bell pepper

1 medium onion

1 small bunch fresh cilantro

2 Tbsp olive oil

½ cup (120 ml) water

flour tortillas (substitute large lettuce leaves for low-carb version)

Directions

1.) Juice the lime. Combine the fajita seasoning and lime juice in a medium bowl.

2.) Cut the chicken into strips, perpendicular to the grain.

3.) Stir the chicken into the seasoning and juice mixture. Let sit at room temperature for half an hour.

4.) Slice the pepper and onion into strips; set aside. Finely chop the cilantro; set aside separately.

5.) Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding, brown the chicken on both sides. It’s not necessary to cook it through just yet. Transfer each batch to a bowl as it finishes browning.

6.) When all the chicken is done browning, add the remaining oil to the pan with the onions and peppers. Cook several minutes, just until the vegetables begin to soften and brown.

7.) Pour in any remaining marinade, along with the water. Bring to a boil, scraping up all the yummy browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

8.) Return the chicken to the pan; mix well. Let everything simmer until the chicken is cooked through and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. I took the photo a bit early — there’s still a fair amount of liquid left to evaporate.

9.) Spread some of the filling in a strip down the middle of a soft tortilla*, leaving a finger-breadth or two bare at one end.  Sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Fold the bare end up over the filling, then one side, then the other.

Serve with a side of guacamole and some sour cream. I usually substitute plain, non-fat Greek yogurt for the sour cream. It tastes nearly identical and is a lot healthier for you.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Joseph Tardi says:

    Looks good!

    Gave me an idea…when my son comes home for the Holiday from New York.

    I’ll ask him if he wants to make this together between Turkey dinners.

    Say hello to Trip.

    Regards, Joe

    Liked by 1 person

    1. julie says:

      It will be a fun dish to cook (and eat) together! He says hi back.

      Like

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