Those of you who read my column regularly know that I am keenly interested in the history of the dishes I prepare. Today's dish is no exception.
Many people mistakenly assume fajitas originated in Mexico. I know that's what I thought. The truth is their origin is traced to Texas in the early 1900's where cowhands received a portion of their compensation in the form of scrap beef. These cowhands became accomplished at taking these undesirable cuts (such as the skirt steak as we know it today) and making hearty meals.
The fajita is one of those dishes, with the origin of the word being traced to the Spanish word “faja” which means “belt” or “girdle,” which explains the name “skirt steak.”
Today's recipe focuses on chicken instead of beef, and the marinade is the key. Our family has been using this marinade for years; it is a combination of a couple of marinades that have been tweaked. It's simple and delicious. This marinade is used with 1 ½ lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. You can see the video I just posted at www.YouTube.com/BBQMyWay.
Chicken Fajita Marinade
• ½ can of your favorite beer
• 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
• 1 Tbs brown sugar
• 1 Tbs olive oil
• 2 to 3 cloves of chopped garlic
• ¾ tsp ground cumin
• ¼ cup chopped cilantro
• dash of salt
Mix all ingredients listed above and pour over chicken in a zip lock bag. Allow to marinate for 1 to 2 hours.
Cut in lengthwise strips a green bell pepper, a red bell pepper, a yellow bell pepper and a small onion.
Place in a bowl and drizzle lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and lightly toss.
The grill should be set up with indirect heat, meaning the coals are on one side of the grill, or one section of your gas grill is not turned on. Saute' the peppers and onion over the fire in a cast iron skillet, or better yet, one of the metal bowls with small holes meant for use on the grill.
When the peppers and onion become slightly cooked but still retain some crunch, remove them from the heat and
wrap them in foil.
Grill the chicken breasts, starting off by putting them over the portion of the grill with no flame. Close
the lid and let cook indirectly for 10 minutes or so. Now move the breasts over direct heat, turning
them once or twice until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. You can either discard the liquid, or bring it to a rapid boil on the stove and use as a dipping sauce.
(If you are going to use it as a dipping sauce, be sure to bring the fluid to a RAPID BOIL for a minute or two.)
Cut chicken into lengthwise pieces, dip in the sauce if you have retained and boiled it, place on a soft
tortilla and pile on the peppers, onion and your favorite fajita condiments.
Dave Lobeck is a barbecue chef from Sellersburg, Ind., who writes a column for CNHI News Service. Visit his website at www.BBQMyWay.com.