From Scratch, With Love

Steak Fajitas

with one comment

Friday night, I made fajitas.

I’ve never made fajitas before.  Honestly, I’m not sure how many times I’ve really eaten fajitas before.  Somehow, I’ve been craving them all week and been very excited about it.  I made them using skirt steak, as is tradition, made the flour tortillas from scratch (again: a new feat for me.  I’ve made corn tortillas plenty of times but not flour tortillas), and made the guacamole and the rice.  I looked up a few fajita recipes online to get an idea of what it entails (I liked the recipe), but in the end I didn’t actually use a recipe to make them, I just sort of used the ingredients that seemed commonly fajita-ish and used some tips that I remembered from the Internet.  I also didn’t use a recipe for the guacamole or rice (which I made up on the spot, possibly Chipotle-inspired).  I looked at the Joy of Cooking recipe for flour tortillas, but made some changes.  The nice thing about this meal is that it doesn’t require a big grocery store run because so many of the ingredients are common to all of the components (lime, green onions, cilantro, garlic).  It’s also not too expensive because skirt steak is a pretty cheap cut of meat – I think the meal for two cost me about $13 – and we ate a LOT.

The steak part was the part I was most worried about because I don’t work with steak all that often.  It was also the most delicious part of the meal.  It was perfectly cooked and juicy from the marinade and I think it would have been delicious by itself as carne asada.  When I was in high school I worked as a hostess at a popular mexican restaurant in Washington, DC and my favorite half-price meal was the carne asada, which I now see was a skirt steak seared much like I did below.  I would make it again.

The tortillas didn’t come out the way I had planned, as I was unable to get them as thin as I wanted.  However, they worked really well for this meal, since they were thick enough not to break with the weight of all the filling.  I wouldn’t recommend them for burritos, however.  I do have to admit that I don’t think they were much of an improvement over store-bought tortillas, but I will keep trying.

Time-wise, the meal wasn’t so bad.  I started the steak marinating on Thursday night and got home at 6 on Friday.  Dinner was on the table by 7:30.  Not so bad for a meal made entirely from scratch, right?

Marinade for the steak

At least an hour or up to a day before your planned meal, squeeze the juice from 2 limes into a gallon ziplock bag.  To reduce waste, you can also use a bowl as long as you can cover it with a tight seal.  Add:

2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, deseeded and minced
A few sprigs of Cilantro, roughly chopped
Salt, 1 teaspoon or to taste
A few grinds of black pepper

Add 12-16 oz of flank or skirt steak to the mixture and turn it several times to cover it thoroughly.  Place it in the fridge until ready to use.  Halfway through the marinating time, turn the steak so that it marinates evenly.

Flour Tortillas (This is how I did it, but there are many methods out there and I will probably try others)

In a large bowl, sift together

1 1/2 cups white all-purpose or bread flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour (optional – you can just use all white flour if desired)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

Add 1/4 cup lard or shortening. Using a pastry blender, a fork, or your hands, incorporate the fat into the flour mixture until there are small pea-sized pieces or flour-covered fat distributed throughout.  Gradually add 3/4 cup hot water to the mixture and stir the dough gently until it comes together.  I worked it with my hands at the end to get the crumbs together.  Dump it onto the counter and give it a few kneads until it is a smooth dough that holds together.

Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll them into balls.  Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let rest for 20 minutes.  Take a breather.  Perhaps use this time to prep the peppers and onions you are going to use for the fajitas, or to make the guacamole.

Next, heat a griddle or skillet on medium-low heat until hot enough to evaporate water instantly.  Take each ball of dough and either press it in a tortilla press or roll it with a rolling pin.  I found that the tortilla press made the tortillas thicker than I would have liked, but they ended up working well with the meal.  If you roll it with a rolling pin, you might want to sprinkle a little flour on your rolling surface and on the rolling pin to keep it from sticking.  If you use a tortilla press, cover it with a piece of plastic (a plastic vegetable bag from the grocery store cut so that it’s large and rectangular works well.).  I used wax paper, but I wasn’t happy with the results – the dough kept sticking to the wax paper.

I made four tortillas at a time and put them on the griddle all at once so that the timing was the same (I used a long griddle that fit over two burners).  After about a minute, or until they start to get brown spots on them, flip them (a little longer for thicker tortillas).  In another minute, remove them and wrap them in a stack in a kitchen towel so that they keep warm.  Repeat for the rest of the tortillas.


Put, in a small bowl:

1/2 ripe avocado, diced
Juice from half of a lime
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 green onion, sliced very thin
a couple sprigs of cilantro, minced
pinch of salt
pink of red pepper flakes (optional)

Mush with a fork.

If you want to do a larger batch, you can also do it in the blender, or using a potato masher.  Guacamole should be used the day that you make it.  It may keep a few days longer because of the acid in the lime juice, but the quality suffers.

Cilantro Lime Rice

Make a serving of rice by boiling two parts water and adding one part white rice and cooking for about 20 minutes over low heat. (I used 1/2 cup dry rice for 2 servings).

Roughly chop some cilantro.  When the rice is done, put it into a serving bowl and fluff with a fork.  Add the cilantro and the juice from half a lime and some salt.  You can also add a little oil if you don’t like your rice sticky.


The meat should be cooked right around when the tortillas are made so that everything is hot at serving time.

Make sure your meat fits comfortably in your favorite skillet.  I used a 12″ skillet with flat sides.  I cut my skirt steak in half.  Heat the skillet for a few minutes over high heat – you want the meat to really sear.

There’s no need to use oil since the meat has some fat to it.  When the skillet is hot, place the marinated flank or skirt steak on the skillet.  After about three minutes, flip it.  The meat should be slightly charred on the outside.  I like my meat medium to medium rare, so I took it off after another two minutes of searing.  If you like it more well-done, leave it a minute or so longer on each side.  This cut of meat has a tendency to be tough when overcooked, so be careful.  Lay the meat on a cutting board to rest for a few minutes.

Heat the skillet again and add

1 white or yellow onion, sliced vertically
1 green or red pepper, sliced

The slices should be about the same size for the pepper and onion.

Stir fry for a few minutes until the vegetables brown slightly at the edges but are still crisp.  Remove to a bowl.

Your meat should now be ready to slice.  Slice it very thinly at a 45 degree angle.  This ensures that the meat is easier to bite into.

To assemble the fajitas (I believe this should be done by the individuals eating the meal and not by the cook), spread a little guacamole on the tortillas, sprinkle some rice on, and add the meat and peppers and onions.  I also had some lettuce and tomato to put on the fajitas, but I don’t think that was necessary.  Some people might want cheese on it, or perhaps some sour cream.  Devour.


Written by poperatzii

May 22, 2010 at 3:06 am

Posted in Latin-Inspired

Tagged with ,

One Response

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  1. […] made carne asada tonight.  I’m not going to repost the recipe since it’s the same one I used for […]

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