Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chicken Fajitas

Years ago when I first started cooking, my mother cleaned out her cupboards and gave me all of the cookbooks she never used. One of them was a church book from western Pennsylvania, one of those collections where everyone throws in their favorite recipes. Hidden amongst the tater-tot salads and the slow cooker pot roasts was a recipe for chicken fajitas. I love that: 1963, steel country PA, and someone's cooking chicken friggin' fajitas. And guess what? They're awesome.

A few tips:
  • I use kitchen scissors to cut up the chicken. Buy yourself a good pair: Chicago Cutlery, or Wusthof, one of those brands. My friend Eileen gave me a set of these 20 years ago when I got married, and they're still going strong. So's the marriage, which may be unrelated. But then again, maybe not . . .
  • Grate your own cheese. That pre-grated stuff from the grocery store will ruin any dish, especially if the cheese is uncooked, as it is here.
  • I use six- or eight-inch tortillas, and I warm them up in the microwave wrapped in paper towel, just to keep life easy.
  • Cook the onions separately. That way you can use tons of hot peppers and not have to worry about taking the kids to the emergency room.
  • Let the kids make their own fajitas. A little control goes a long way.


1/4 cup lime juice (the store bought stuff will do just fine)
2 Tb soy sauce
2 Tb Worcheshire sauce
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
2 TB olive oil

1-1.5 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast
10 Tortillas
1.5 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 small tomatoes, diced
2 cups chopped lettuce
1 onion, sliced
Sour Cream

  1. Mix together the marinade.
  2. Cut the chicken up into bite-sized pieces and toss them in the marinade. Let sit.
  3. Chop the tomatoes and the lettuce, grate the cheese and slice (don't chop!) the onions. Wrap the tortillas in paper towel, but don't put them in the microwave, yet. By the time you're done with all of this, the chicken should have marinated long enough.
  4. In a small saute pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil, and toss in the onions, plus 1-2 tablespoons of dried red pepper flakes. Saute as you're cooking the chicken (below).
  5. Heat up a wok or a large frying pan. (Because there's oil in the marinade, I don't use any here, but you might have to if the chicken seems to stick.)
  6. Using a slotted spoon, put the chicken in the pan and cook on high or medium-high.
  7. Pour most of the run-off juices from the chicken pan into the onion pan so that they can soak up the flavor. If there isn't any juice, use some of the left-over marinade.
  8. Add more hot pepper flakes to the onions.
  9. Put your tortillas in the microwave; cook for 1-1.5 minutes.
  10. Stir-fry the chicken for five or so minutes, until it's done, but not over-done. (Don't be afraid to pour more juices into the onions. You're not making a stew here, and the onions will only get tastier and tastier. )
  11. Add more hot pepper flakes to the onions. Give them another good stir, then turn off the heat.
  12. Set everything (including the sour cream) up on the table in separate dishes and let everyone make their own, using their own proportions and omitting whatever they choose.
Family Ratings, on a scale of 1-10:

Will, who generally hates everything: 10
Lucy, who's loathe to like her brother's favorite food: 7
Jamie, who really digs sour cream: 10
Paul, who usually adds still more red pepper flakes to the onions: 10


  1. I am going to try this next week. I love fajitas and, as I have grown to enjoy the kitchen over the last 10 year, I don't know why I've never tried to make them myself before now.

  2. What??!? Ellen doesn't get a vote? Put down the scissors and step away from the keyboard, mister!

  3. Worcheshire sauce? D'oh!! I'm such a rookie.

  4. Yum!
    Sarah 9
    Ken 8
    Isaak 7.5
    Toby 3.5
    Will make it again and they'll like it better, simply because it isn't new.