And The Secret Ingredient In My Steak Fajitas Is
Okay, lets do a quick walkthrough on the ingredients and how youre going to make the marinade for the fajitas. Without any further suspense let me share with you the ONE ingredient that makes my steak fajitas better than the rest PINEAPPLE JUICE. Um, yup. You read that right. Pineapple juice, the stuff that comes in a small/large cans in the juice aisle. I use the stuff that is 100% juice with no additional sugars added.
If youre wondering what the function of pineapple juice is for fajitas, allow me to explain. Store-bought fajita seasonings usually contain enzymes that help tenderize the meat. So to mimic that same tenderization without any weird ingredients, we use pineapple juice. There are people that argue that fresh pineapple juice works best. But honestly, for our recipe, canned pineapple juice works just fine! No need to grab a fresh pineapple and make fresh juice, unless youd like to that is.
How To Make The Best Steak Fajitas:
Now the instructions combine the ingredients for the marinade and let marinate. Its that simple. I like to let fajita meat marinate for at least 4 hours and ideally sometimes, overnight. The longer you let them sit, the tastier they are.
I made these indoors on a large cast iron skillet. You can grill the meat out on the grill in the summertime if youd like. I know we definitely will once it stops raining here EVERY SINGLE DAY and once we purchase a grill. In the meantime, the cast iron skillet is making them just perfectly. ?? I use one large skillet to sear the meat, and while the meat is resting, I add in another tablespoon of oil and allow the veggies to sauté. I love the little bits of the charred marinade to coat the peppers and onions. If you dont want that, use a separate skillet to make the veggies. Make sure to season them with a hint of salt and pepper.
Make it a Sunday tradition, because I have a feeling that this recipe is going to get ten thumbs up.
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How To Reheat Steak Fajitas
- Microwave: transfer steak and bell peppers to a microwave safe plate. Microwave for 60 seconds then at 20 second intervals as needed.
- Skillet: warm steak in a skillet on the stove top over medium heat, stirring often until warmed through.
- Oven: Transfer steak and bell peppers to a baking sheet and reheat at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes or just until warmed through.
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Tricks To Tender Fajita Meat
If your beef fajitas are chewy, it is likely because you cut the steak in the wrong direction, or because you didnt give it time to properly marinade.
- Cut the Beef Against the Grain. Slicing meat against the grain helps tenderize it. By looking closely at the steak, youll be able to see the direction the grain is running. Make your cuts perpendicular to it .
- . Acids like citrus juice or vinegar tenderize meat by breaking down its fibers. Even 30 minutes of marinade time makes a difference. Dont skip it!
Longer is not necessarily better when it comes to marinating meat.
- Letting the beef sit too long in the acid will eventually cause it to break down too much and it will have a poor texture.
- Generally, I find that you can marinate meat for up to 1 day with good results 4 to 6 hours is ideal.
Where Do Steak Fajitas Come From
Steak, chicken or shrimp fajitas have to be one of my favorite Mexican foods and one of the most beloved Mexican foods, so I was surprised to find that fajitas dont come from Mexico at all! Fajitas originated in Texas in the 1930s when vaqueros cooked skirt steak then throwaway butcher meat- over the campfire. In fact, Fajita has its roots in Tex Mex the word faja is Spanish for strip, or belt, and ita means little describing the little strips of meat.
It wasnt until the 1980s that what we know as Steak Fajitas served with sizzling onions and peppers alongside tortillas rice and beans were popularized by numerous restaurants in Texas. Before that, fajitas as we know them, where relatively unknown even in Mexican food rich states as California and Arizona! Mind blown.
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How Do You Marinate Steak For Fajitas
Similar to the marinade we use for our chicken fajitas, we like to stick with the key elements of fat, acidin this case, lime juiceand flavor. Heres what goes into our marinade and results in the most tender and flavorful steak fajitas:
- Liquid: lime juice & olive oil
- Flavor bombs: Garlic & cilantro
- Lots of spices: onion powder, smoked paprika and chilli powder
Mix all marinade ingredients together, pour it over the steak, seal it in an airtight container, and then dont think about it for at least 20-30 minutes, and up to a couple of days.
What Type Of Meat Should I For Steak Fajitas Recipe
Steak Fajitas is traditionally made using skirt or flank steak. I prefer flank steak with its wide, flat shape, rich buttery flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture. Flank steak is a little leaner than skirt steak but because we are using a marinade to maximize the flavor, it emerges wonderfully juicy and flavorful.
Can I use skirt steak? If you still want to use skirt steak, take care to cook it rare or medium rare for the most tender texture because skirt steak contains more tough muscles that become exponentially tougher the longer it is cooked.
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Meal Prep And Storage
- To Prep-Ahead: Wash and cut the veggies, and make the marinade up to 3 days in advance. You can also marinate the steak for up to 24 hours.
- To Store: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
- To Freeze: Seal in a freezer-safe airtight container and freeze for up to 3-6 months.
- To Reheat: Add the steak back to a skillet with a touch of oil. Warm up over medium heat for 5-10 minutes or until heated through.
How To Make Leftover Steak Fajitas
STEP ONE: Slice the leftover flank steak into thin strips, cutting against the grain. If the steak was on the thicker side, you can also slice each strip in half lengthwise.
STEP TWO: In a medium bowl, combine the sliced peppers, onions, 1 tablespoon olive oil, garlic, cumin, lime juice, and red pepper. Toss until the peppers and onions are well-coated.
STEP THREE: Heat a cast iron skillet or non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
STEP FOUR: Add the pepper and onion mixture to the pan. Saute until the onions are opaque and the peppers have softened.
STEP FIVE: Once the peppers and onions have just about finished cooking, add the steak to the pan to warm up.
STEP SIX: Warm the tortillas. You can do this in the oven wrapped in foil, on a skillet sprayed with olive oil cooking spray, or in the air fryer
STEP SEVEN: Add the flank steak, peppers, onions, and queso fresco in each tortilla.
STEP EIGHT: Top with sour cream and fresh cilantro, along with other desired toppings such as salsa, freshly squeezed lime wedges, and diced avocado. Enjoy!
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Key To Great Marinades #: Acid
I used to think that acid was essential in a marinade for tenderizing purposes, and it’s trueacid can slightly tenderize tough connective tissue in meat. Unfortunately, excessive acid can also start to chemically “cook” meat, denaturing its protein and causing it to firm up and eventually turn chalky .
I tried completely omitting acid and adding it in the form of lime juice squeezed on at the end, but the flavor difference was noticeablemeat marinated in acid was more balanced and brighter-tasting. There were also a few minor strands of membrane and connective tissue that were more noticeable without the acid. In the end I opted for lime juice in equal parts with the oil.
“marinades do not actually penetrate particularly far into meat”
You may be surprised to learn that, despite their reputation, marinades do not actually penetrate particularly far into meateven after the course of a night, a marinade will penetrate no further than a millimeter or two, and that penetration rate slows down the longer you marinate for. So really, a marinade’s effects are largely limited to the surface of the meat. Luckily for us, on a skirt steak, that’s precisely where all of the tougher connective tissues are located, so if any tenderization is going to occur, it’ll occur in the right places.
How To Make Grilled Steak Fajitas
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How To Make Fajitas
Weve shared fajitas on Inspired Taste before. Thanks to a garlic citrus marinade, these easy chicken fajitas are juicy and ultra-flavorful.
Fajitas cook quickly. Because of the quick cooking time, were okay with taking a bit of time to marinate the meat.
We dont use a wet marinade and instead use a simple spice rub. Our homemade chili powder inspired our fajita seasoning mix. In it, we mix ancho chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, and smoked paprika. Its strong in flavor and works beautifully with chicken, steak, and even shrimp.
For the steak fajitas, we use flank or skirt steak. They cook quickly but can be a bit tough. To get around this, rub the steak with fajita seasoning and salt in advance.
We use the same seasoning for the chicken, which turns into a flavorful crust after cooking. The same goes for the shrimp. Merely dust the shrimp with fajita seasoning before cooking.
When it comes to cooking, start with chicken. It takes the longest. You can use chicken breast or chicken thighs. For the juiciest chicken, we use our go-to method for cooking chicken breast. Brown one side of the chicken in a pan, flip it, turn the heat down to low, and cover with a lid.
Cooking the chicken over low heat with the lid helps to keep the chicken moist and tender inside. We do this for juicy pork chops, too! Next, transfer the cooked chicken to a plate and cover with foil while preparing the steak and shrimp.
Which Steak Is Best For Fajitas
The best cuts of steak to use for fajitas are skirt steak, flank steak or flat iron. These lean cuts of beef are loaded with meaty flavor, and they lend themselves well to a marinade as they can be a bit on the tough side. After that quick marinade, cutting the steak thinly and against the grain and cooking it quickly yields tender steak bites that you expect from good steak fajitas.
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How Do I Slice My Steak Fajitas
Make sure you slice your steak THINLY across the grain for optimal juicy tenderness. The thinner slices the better in my husbands book. You can see the grain running through the meat in one direction. The grain is essentially the muscle fibers running through the meat.
You want to cut perpendicular to the muscle fibers so they become as short as possible. You can a have melt in your mouth steak off the grill but if you cut it parallel to the grain you will end up with long muscle fibers AKA chewy, rubbery tough meat. So cut AGAINST the grain!
What Kind Of Tortillas To Use For Fajitas
You can use either corn or flour tortillas for this steak fajitas recipe. If you wish, you can even make a homemade flour tortilla all you need is a cast iron skillet.
When serving the steak fajitas, make sure that the tortilla is warmed up, either in the microwave, the skillet, or a tortilla warmer.
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Tender, juicy, melt-in-your-mouth slices of steak with bell peppers and onion. SO SO GOOD. Serve with tortillas, pico and guacamole.
Its funny. When I lived in Los Angeles, we could grill all year long. And I never really took it for granted until this week. And now Ben uses the grill in 40 degree weather in his parka and beanie, shivering.
I guess its not that funny at all. Well, at least Im not the one outside grilling in the coldest weather ever.
Anyway, if youre in Chiberia like me, you can employ your partner to go outside to take care of all the labor. Or if you are lucky enough to live in Southern California with sunny 70 degree weather, you can definitely grill this.
But for those who dont have access to a grill, no problem. You can still make the easiest steak fajitas ever. The steak can be thrown onto a cast iron skillet, and the veggies can cook on the stovetop while your meat rests.
See, told you. Super easy, quick, and fast.
Serve with tortillas , pico and guacamole. Or you can simply eat your steak and veggies because, well, Atkins diet, no?
Can I Use A Different Kind Of Steak
Absolutely! I used flank steak because its what I happened to have in my refrigerator, but you can certainly use a different cut.
Skirt steaks are another great option for a tender and flavorful steak. Plus, if you dont have any leftover steak, skirt steak will cook up quickly when cut into strips.
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Ingredients In Grilled Steak Fajitas
- Steak: For this particular recipe, I like to use skirt or flank steak. Theyre both very inexpensive cuts of meat, but tend to be tough so we make sure to marinate long enough to break down some of the tougher parts of the meat. You also only want to cook the steak to a medium-rare or medium temperature, otherwise the meat can be tough.
- Quick Tip: One last tip when it comes to cooking a tough piece of meat like a flank steak, when you slice the steak, make sure to slice it against the grain.
- Lime: I like the acidic notes of lime juice in this marinate, not only is it flavorful, but it helps to tenderize the meat as well.
- Olive oil. You dont need an expensive olive oil here, anything will work!
- Spices: The spice blend in these Grilled Steak Fajitas is simple chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, paprika, and just a little bit of cayenne if youre up for it.
- Garlic: I like to grate the garlic into the marinade by using a microplane, but you can also smash it or mince it.
- Peppers: Use a medley of your favorite bell peppers. I prefer red, yellow, and orange peppers because they tend to be a bit sweeter than green peppers.
- Tortillas: Any tortillas will work. We prefer flour tortillas, but if corn is your thing, go for it!
Step : Warm Tortillas
Warm tortillas will elevate your steak fajitas to a whole new level of YUM. Not only are they softer and the ideal non-jarring, melt-in-your mouth temperature, but the flavors are accentuated when warmed. If you attempt to use room temperature or cold tortillas, youll find their temperature isnt nearly as appetizing and they arent as pliable and soft. Lower quality corn tortillas are also likely to break if not warmed.
You can easily warm your tortillas in SECONDS using any of my below methods: open flame, skillet, microwave or oven, with the microwave being the quickest.
Once your tortillas are warmed , keep them warm and pliable by stacking on a plate and covering with a slightly dampened, paper towel or clean towel.
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How Can I Switch Up These Leftover Steak Fajitas
- Have leftover chicken or pulled pork? Go ahead and use that instead of steak for your fajita filling!
- Want a fun dish for the family to share? Turn this steak fajita recipe into nachos! Instead of filling tortillas, just add the ingredients over chips. Top with extra cheese, broil in the oven for 2-3 minutes to melt, then dig in.
- Looking for a low-carb option? You can ditch the tortillas and enjoy a hot and tasty fajita bowl if you prefer.
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Marinate The Skirt Steak
Start by trimming a Skirt Steak of any tough pieces of fat or connective tissues a little fat left on the steak will flavor the meat so we dont need to be too finicky here.
Now, the inside skirt typically has a thinner side and a slightly thicker side, so slice the two sections apart to make them easier to cook, slice, and serve.
Add the trimmed steaks to a large Ziplock back with a marinade that includes fresh lime juice, smashed garlic cloves, gluten free Tamari, vegetable oil, brown sugar,green onions, cumin, and smoked paprika, if you have it. Massage to coat then pop into the refrigerator for 3-12 hours to marinate.
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