"The key to perfect chicken fajitas is in the marinade. The second key is a hot skillet. The third key is…well, there is no third key. So just marinate, stir-fry and enjoy with simple accompaniments - fresh guacamole, cilantro, Cotia cheese, all wrapped into a warm tortilla"
The making of - Perfect Chicken Fajitas
We all do it.
Turn our heads at the sound of those sizzling fajitas being served up in our favorite Mexican restaurant.
How can you not? They sizzle, they steam, they smell ... oh so good.
And now you can make them at home. Even better. Because when you make them at home, you have control. Over the ingredients. Over the fat and calories. And over the flavor.
Step #1 - The Perfect Chicken Fajitas Marinade
For me, one of the most important factors in perfect chicken fajitas is the marinade. You want flavorful meat, that way you don't have to add a lot to the plate to make it taste good. And when investigating recipes, I found that most of them lacked any real depth of flavor. Cumin, lime juice, chili powder.
"I have that - and more!"
Using both lime and orange juices gives the chicken a real zing with a sweet back note. Chili powder, oregano, cumin, garlic, and onion powder, give depth. And the oil helps everything blend together in smooth harmony.
Again, remember that using citrus as a marinade does change the texture of the meat, so keep the marinating time 2 hours or less. There really isn't all that much difference in how far a marinade penetrates the meat by leaving it in longer, and we're going to use some of that marinade in the cooking process, so all the flavors will be there at the end. So avoid mealy meat, and keep the marinating time from 1 - 2 hours.
Step #2 - The cooking part
It is important to have a hot pan when you throw those peppers and onions into cook. You want them to be crisp-tender, but with some brown edges which = flavor! Once you have that, remove them and then throw the chicken into the pan; along with some of the marinade to cook through. Return the veggies and toss them together until well coated and most of the marinade is mostly evaporated.
Step #3 - Choose your wrapper
Personally, fajitas are one of the few Mexican dishes that I actually use flour tortillas for. I'm a corn tortilla girl, but for some reason, perfect chicken fajitas seem more sandwich-like and flour seems to be a better choice. But if you love corn, or are gluten-free, corn tortillas work too. Whatever tortillas you use, just get them nice and soft and pliable so they fold over the delicious fajita mix.
Step #4 - The final touches
Toppings are another personal choice. I like to make my Super Simple Guacamole along with cotia cheese, a semi-hard Mexican cheese, similar to parmesan, and fresh cilantro leaves. Again, if you are a cilantro hater, feel free to leave that off. In place of cotia cheese, you could use grated cheddar, jack, or just leave it off completely.
Sour cream is an option as well. I usually choose not to add sour cream as I find it convolutes the flavors a bit. But if you are a sour cream lover, such as my granddaughter is, then go ahead and slop some on.
Perfect Chicken Fajitas
"See easy peasy. It's a Mexican Stir-Fry!"
So once the marinating is done, it's less than 30 minutes to the table for fantastic sizzling perfect chicken fajitas. Serve with Cara's Authentic Mexican Rice, or some Savory Black Beans for a complete meal.
Wine Recommendation: Well the perfect wine for this dish is a Margarita or a cerveza. If you really want to drink wine, a Sauv Blanc or Pinot Grigio would be good bets as they both have hints of citrus which plays well with the lime/orange flavors as well as cumin and cilantro.
Perfect Chicken Fajitas
- For the Marinade
- ¼ cup EACH fresh lime juice and orange juice about 2 limes and ½ orange
- 1 teaspoon neutral oil I like grapeseed, or avocado for this dish
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano crushed between your fingers
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon EACH garlic and onion powder
- Fajitas Mix
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast sliced against the grain into bite-sized pieces
- 1 onion preferably red, cut in half then sliced into ¼ inch thick pieces on the lateral
- 2 bell peppers seeded and sliced laterally into long slices (I like to use a variety of colors)
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- Salt to taste
- The Final Touches
- Optional or as desired
- Fresh cilantro leaves if desired
- Guacamole or sliced avocado
- Cotia or other grated cheese such as cheddar or jack and/or sour cream
- Additional salsa
- Fresh lime slices
- Flour and/or corn tortillas heated
- Mix the marinade ingredients together in a large zip-top bag; add the chicken pieces and toss to coat. Remove the air from the bag and refrigerate for 1 hour, or up to 2 hours.
- After marinating, remove the bag from the refrigerator. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat; when hot, add the oil and the vegetables along with a pinch of salt. Stir-fry until the vegetables are crisp-tender and beginning to brown around the edges. Transfer to a plate. Remove the chicken from the marinade, reserving the marinade, and add the chicken to the hot pan. Stir fry for about 3 minutes or until mostly cooked, then add about ¼ cup of the marinade to the hot pan, along with the vegetables tossing to coat them well. Stir fry for 5 minutes (this makes the marinade safe from raw chicken contaminants) until the chicken is cooked through and most of the marinade has evaporated.
- Heat your tortillas either in the oven or microwave. Place a portion of fajitas inside, add desired accompaniments, fold in half, and enjoy.