Fajitas are a Tex-Mex restaurant favourite, usually served sizzling on a cast-iron plate and with small bowls of condiments. It's a crowd-pleasing dish and this recipe is easy to make at home.
Chicken fajitas with flour tortillas, guacamole and salsa
Many fajita recipes call for boneless chicken breasts - but if there's a meat that's more tasteless, dry and dull, I haven't tried it (turkey breast is just as bad). Chicken thighs make for a much more flavourful filling.
750 grams boneless, skinless chicken thighs
¾ tsp chilli powder
¾ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp annatto powder (also known as achiote)
3-4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
30ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
Fine sea salt
Cooking oil, as needed
Tortillas, salsa and guacamole (recipes below)
Sour cream and bottled chilli sauces
Cut the chicken thighs into 1cm-wide strips and put them in a bowl. Mix in the chilli powder, cumin powder, annatto powder and ¾ tsp of fine sea salt. Add the garlic and olive oil, mix thoroughly then cover the bowl with cling-film and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Cut the onion in half from stem to stem, then slice it about 3mm thick. Remove the stem and core from the bell peppers, then cut them into strips about 1cm wide.
Heat a skillet (preferably cast iron) over a medium-high flame and coat it lightly with oil. Add one layer of the chicken strips, sear them on one side then flip them over and sear the other side. Lower the heat and continue to cook the meat until it's done. Put the pieces on a plate and cook the remaining chicken strips the same way.
Wash the skillet and dry it. Place the skillet over a medium flame and add 30ml of cooking oil. Add the onion and cook until soft, stirring often. Put the onion on the plate with the chicken. Heat the skillet over a high flame, add about 15ml of oil, then place a layer of peppers, skin-side down, in the pan. Cook the pepper slices until they char in spots and start to soften, then flip them and cook the other side. Put the peppers on the plate with the onion and chicken and cook the remaining pieces the same way.
Heat the skillet over a high flame then add the chicken, onion and bell peppers. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if needed. Cook the ingredients until they're sizzling hot, then serve with warm tortillas, bottled hot sauces, and salsa, guacamole and sour cream (in separate bowls).
Home-made flour tortillas
Yes, you can buy flour tortillas, but home-made ones taste much better.
400 grams plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for rolling the tortillas
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp fine sea salt
60 grams lard or rendered duck or goose fat, melted then cooled slightly so it's still soft
About 250ml ice water
Cooking oil, as needed
Put the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Mix in the fat then add about 200ml of ice water and stir to combine. Drizzle in additional ice water to make a soft, cohesive dough that's neither sticky nor dry. Knead the dough briefly then put it back in the bowl. Wrap the bowl tightly with cling-film and leave the dough to rest at room temperature for about an hour.
Roll the dough into a long snake and cut it into 30-gram pieces. Shape the pieces of dough into balls then use a wooden dowel to roll them on a lightly floured work surface into circles about 2mm thick.
Heat a griddle (I use an Indian tawa) over a medium flame. Coat the griddle with a very thin layer of cooking oil. Lay a tortilla on the griddle and cook until it smells toasty and is charred lightly in spots, then flip it over and cook the other side. Adjust the flame if the tortillas are cooking too fast or too slowly - each one needs about a minute to 90 seconds in total. As the tortillas are cooked, stack them on a dry kitchen cloth that's been folded in half, then cover them with another double-layered kitchen cloth.
The tortillas can be made in advance and reheated directly over the open flame of a gas burner until they soften, turning them often. Keep them warm by stacking them on the kitchen cloth and cover with another kitchen cloth.
Salsa and guacamole
300 grams red cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1-2 red bird's eye chillies
A few stalks of fresh coriander
Fine sea salt
2 ripe avocadoes
Dice the tomatoes, then mince the shallots and garlic cloves. Cut the chillies in half lengthwise then scrape out and discard the seeds. Mince the chillies. Mix the tomato with the shallot, garlic and chillies then season to taste with salt. Leave at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Roughly chop the coriander then mix it into the salsa.
Cut the avocadoes in half and remove the pit. Scoop the avocado flesh from the skin. Mash the avocado flesh then mix in about one-quarter of the salsa and season to taste with salt. Put the salsa and guacamole in separate bowls.
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