Juicy steak fajitas are always a crowd pleaser. They are incredibly easy to throw together for a quick weeknight dinner. They are equally great to serve at a party. What a show stopper to bring a sizzling skillet of fajita meat and vegetables to a table that is set with bowls of fresh, colorful toppings.
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I have always loved fajitas. This love affair goes all the way back to the days when Chi Chi’s chain Mexican restaurants were quite the rage. I ate there so often, I am grateful (yet surprised) that I was not one of the poor people who became ill from the E-coli on the green onions.
I still remember their glorious fajitas. They were juicy, tender, a bit smokey, and a little bit sweet. I heard that the meat was marinated in margarita mix. Interesting. So I tried it. Epic fail. The beef was way too sweet and not tender. There was very little spice and even less flavor.
Then I moved to Houston where I became a self-proclaimed fajita connoisseur. I’m sure there are places there that serve up a bad fajita, but I never had one. I ate enough fajitas at different places that I learned what elements or flavors I liked or disliked from each of the different places. I became obsessed with figuring out the best fajita recipe.
I wanted a beef fajita that had lots of flavor, but not a lot of heat. I read that one chain used soy sauce in their marinade and while good, it wasn’t what I wanted…too salty and kind of Asian flavored.
I liked the flavor of lime, chili, and cumin with the beef. To get the sweetness, a bit of brown sugar and some pineapple juice worked well, plus the pineapple juice would also tenderize the meat. Score! I knew I was onto something and a recipe was born!
For this Tex-Mex Beef Fajita recipe, I like using a skirt steak when I can find it. I’ve also used slices of beef fillet. Saying that sounds much more pretentious than it actually is. I must admit that when I can get a great deal on a whole beef fillet, I jump on it. I’ll bring it home, butcher it myself into steaks and the smaller parts that the butcher doesn’t give to you, I’ll cut into fajita meat. Doing this makes enjoying fillet much more affordable. Some of the other cuts of beef that are good for fajitas are hanger steak, flap steak, or tri-tip.
TIPS FOR GETTING THE BEST TEX-MEX BEEF FAJITAS
- Don’t trim too much fat from the meat. A bit of fat will ensure that the meat stays juicy and tender.
- The ideal time to marinate the beef is between 3 hours and 10 hours. Less than 3 and you won’t get the tenderization or flavor. More than 10 hours could make your beef mushy.
- Toss your vegetables with a little of the marinade (reserve the marinade before you add in the beef-you don’t want cross contamination). Just a bit of the marinade on the vegetables just before cooking will add a ton of flavor.
- Get a bit of caramelization on the beef at the end of the cooking time. Crank up the heat and let the sugars brown for a moment.
Who doesn’t love fajitas Tender, juicy, slices of super flavorful beef,colorful, tender/crisp onions and peppers, and warm, soft tortillas – what could be better? This recipe, with the flavorful marinade, is sure to please even your pickiest eater.
- 2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed and sliced into ½-inch slices (against the grain, on a diagonal)
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoons pineapple juice
- 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 4 tablespoons tequila
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed and roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 bunch green onions, ends trimmed and cut into large pieces
- ¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro
- 1 large sweet onion, cut in half and then into slices
- 2 bell peppers, cut into strips (I like using red, yellow, or orange peppers. They’re sweeter)
- 8 – 10 flour tortillas, warmed
- Make the marinade. In a sealable bag, pour in the oil, pineapple juice, lime juice, tequila, garlic, cumin, chili powder, brown sugar, green onions, and cilantro. Seal the bag and massage the ingredients to mix them.
- With a spoon, remove a few tablespoons of marinade to a small bowl. Set aside.
- Add the strips of beef to the marinade. Seal, removing as much air as possible. Massage the marinade into the beef. Place the bag into the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or up to 10.
- Heat a large skillet or fajita pan over medium-high heat. Cast iron is wonderful for this dish, but not a requirement. Pour in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
- While the skillet pre-heats, toss the sliced onion and peppers with the reserved marinade.
- When the skillet is hot and you can feel the heat radiating up when you hold your hand over the pan, add the sliced vegetables and saute until just tender crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove the vegetables to a bowl and set aside.
- Remove the beef slices from the marinade and place onto paper towel. Lightly pat the beef slices dry. Discard the marinade.
- Add the beef to the skillet. Cook until medium-rare, about 10 minutes. At this point, add in the vegetables and toss together with the beef.
- Turn the heat up to high and allow the beef and vegetables to caramelize slightly. Turn the mixture to allow more of the beef and vegetables to get a nice crust.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and serve. I like to serve right on the sizzling skillet, but you can spoon the beef and vegetable to a serving platter.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro.
- Serve with warmed tortillas, guacamole, salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream, diced tomatoes, and sliced jalapenos.
- Serving Size: Serves 4 -6
Complete your festive fajita meal with a few Fresh Strawberry Key Lime Margaritas, a side of Spicy Mexican Rice Pilaf, and finish it off with a little something sweet, like these Ultimate Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies. Have a couple. I won’t tell!