Restaurant chains have populated their menus with pseudo-fajitas, made with chicken, shellfish, and even vegetables. The original was made with beef, and steak fajitas still are the best. Confronted with inclement weather, I’ve cooked the beef in my oven broiler. Good but not great. The flavor that comes from charcoal grilling is the secret that makes fajitas so irresistible.
Try my Tomato-Corn Salsa, with or without the corn.
A Note on Temperature:
Taking a steak directly from the freezer to the grill or broiler is satisfactory so long as you like meat rare or medium-rare in the center. In one experiment, it took three times as long to cook a 1-inch-thick frozen steak to rare than a room temperature steak (25 versus 8 minutes). A refrigerator-temperature steak took 13 minutes. Measure internal temperature in the thickest part of the meat (it cooks last) and avoid meat next to the bone (it cooks faster) or fat (it cooks slower).
Serves6 to 8
Cooking Methodgrilling, sauteeing
Total Timeunder 4 hours
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationmain course
Taste and Texturehot & spicy, juicy, meaty, savory
- 1 flank steak (1¼ to 1½ pounds)
- 1 scallion, white and 2 inches of green, coarsely chopped
- 2 large jalapeño or serrano chilies, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- Salt, to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into ¼-inch strips
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into ¼-inch strips
- 1 small onion, cut into thin strips
- 1 large avocado, pitted, peeled, and cut into thin slices
- 1 cup salsa, preferably homemade (see Notes)
- 8 flour tortillas
Pat the steak dry and place it in a tight-fitting glass baking dish. Combine the scallion, jalapeños, cilantro, ¼ cup of the oil, the lime juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a blender. Purée until well blended. Pour the mixture over the steak. Marinate at room temperature for 1½ to 2 hours, turning the steak at least once.
Prepare coals for grilling.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet or wok. When nearly smoking, add the bell peppers and onion. Stir-fry over high heat for 2 minutes, lower the heat to medium, and cook, covered, until the vegetables are soft, 3 to 4 minutes more.
Arrange the avocado slices and salsa in serving bowls and place them on a buffet or dining table.
Remove the steak from the marinade and pat it dry. Grill until seared and nicely browned on one side, about 4 minutes. Turn and cook 4 minutes more for medium-rare or 5 minutes more for medium. Transfer the steak to a cutting board. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Warm the tortillas on the grill.
Carve the meat across the grain into ¼-inch-thick slices. Cut these slices lengthwise in thirds, salt the meat, and arrange the pieces next to the vegetables on a platter. Wrap the tortillas in a napkin and place on a plate. Place the platter and plate on the table and invite each diner to fill a tortilla with meat, vegetables, avocado, and salsa.
1997 William Rice