It’s that season again, where gorgeous, homegrown bell peppers are popping up in farmers markets and gardens around the country and home cooks everywhere are looking for ways to use them.
The answer? Fajitas. More specifically, steak fajitas, as there’s nothing better than hot, sizzling beef served with all the fixings (and as cattle ranchers, we’re clearly not biased).
I must be honest, however, and admit upfront that I had little to do with these steak fajitas besides eating them, licking my fingers and begging for more. Farmer Dan (as my nephews so sweetly call him) took a break from haying this month to whip up a flavorful marinade one morning, and later grilled the steaks to medium-rare perfection. So naturally, I made him spill all of his secrets so I could share them all with you.
We’ve eaten these steak fajitas using both sirloin and flank steak, but traditionally, fajitas are made using skirt steak. Skirt steak is an inexpensive, flat cut of beef that is taken from the diaphragm muscle and is flavorful but can be tough if cooked improperly. Flank steak is similar to skirt steak, but sirloin offers big flavor and is more forgiving on the grill, which is why we often use it.
Whichever cut you choose, it’s important to remember to marinate the meat for at least four hours, and then grill at a high temperature (over 500 degrees Fahrenheit) just until medium rare. To achieve those beautiful crosshatch grill marks, cook for approximately one minute then rotate the steak 90 degrees. Let it cook for another 90 seconds (depending on the thickness of the steak), then flip and repeat. The steak is medium rare when it has moderate give when pushing on it, or when it is between 120-145 degrees before resting (the USDA recommends 145 degrees). Once off the grill, let the meat rest for ten minutes and then slice it against the grain to avoid a chewy steak.
And if you’re anything like me, letting the meat rest is the hardest part after it comes off a sizzling hot grill.
“But isn’t now the time to dive in? Won’t the meat get cold just sitting here? Don’t I need to pick it and devour it now with my bare hands?”
Let it rest, my friends. Dive into that steak too soon and all of those delicious juices will be swimming all over your cutting board and will not be evenly distributed throughout the meat. The steak won’t get cold- trust me. Sit on your hands if you need to, but don’t cut into that piece of meat too early.
Going back to the vegetables – the second most important part of the meal – it’s important to choose bell peppers that are smooth, firm, unblemished, and bright and evenly colored. If picking from the garden or purchasing at a farmer’s market, store them unwashed and whole in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week.
The steak and vegetables offer huge flavor with this marinade, but don’t forget to include all of the sides and fixings – sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, lettuce, refried beans, Spanish rice and freshly-grated cheese (don’t even bother with the packaged stuff- grating your own cheese is so easy and worth it!) To make a quick pico de gallo, just combine four chopped Roma tomatoes, a diced red onion, a big handful of chopped cilantro, a finely-diced jalapeno and juice from half a lime and salt to taste. Adjust as needed. For my favorite homemade guacamole, mash together four diced Haas avocados, 1 seeded and diced Roma tomato, ½ of one large diced red onion, five minced garlic cloves, juice from 1 ½ limes and generous sprinkle of sea salt, to taste.
Devour and repeat, again and again.
2 steaks (sirloin, flank or skirt)
½ c. olive oil
5 Tbsp. Worcestershire
1/3c. lime juice, freshly squeezed
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. chili powder
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
¼ c. soy sauce
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 medium onions, halved and sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
Oil, for frying
Flour tortillas, warmed
Pico de gallo
In a bowl, combine olive oil, Worcestershire, lime juice, garlic, cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, soy sauce and sugar until combined. Pour half of marinade into a separate container. In one dish, place steak, turning to coat. In the second dish, add vegetables, turning to coat. Cover both dishes and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.
Prepare fixings. To warm tortillas, wrap a stack of five or fewer in aluminum foil and warm at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until heated through. Multiple stacks can be warmed at once.
On the grill: Using a cast iron skillet, add vegetables and cook over medium-high heat for several minutes until al dente. Remove to a plate and keep warm. On the grill, add steak and cook over high for 2 minutes per side until medium rare. Remove and allow to rest on a cutting board for five minutes.
On the stove: Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle in oil. Add vegetables and cook for a few minutes, until al dente. Remove to a plate and keep warm. Heat the same skillet or a grill pan over high heat and add oil. Cook the meat for two minutes per side until medium rare. Remove and allow to rest on a cutting board for five minutes.
Slice the meat right before serving and serve with fresh pico de gallo, sour cream, cilantro and guacamole. Enjoy!
Source: Modified slightly from http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2013/03/beef-fajitas/