Hello and happy Friday eve! Today we’re talkin Fajitas! Specifically, beef fajitas! You could whip these up tonight for a quick dinner or have them tomorrow for a Friday fiesta! I mean, who doesn’t love spicy, fresh fajita tacos to celebrate the end of the week!? I do, that’s for sure.
So, the trick to getting flavorful fajitas is to first start with the meat. Regardless of what you use, beef, chicken, fish….the list goes on…bottom line, you want good quality meat and the rest is super easy. So some tips to choosing the perfect piece of beef for these fajitas as well a other pointers is listed below.
- Pick Your Cut. Fajitas literally translates to “little skirts” or “little bands,” and it stems from the appearance of a skirt steak, a thin flap of meat that hangs down near the front of the steer’s belly. So Skirt steak is the ideal cut of beef for fajitas. You can also use hangar steak, or the inner portion of the skirt steak, both of which are derived from the diaphragm of the animal. And last but not least, the Flank Steak (which is what I used) which is the meat that covers the heifer or steers abdominal wall. You can see them depicted on the image below:
Normally, these cuts of meat have great fat disbursement and are thin which makes them ideal for fast, hot cooking. You want to look for a piece of meat that has good marbling (or fat throughout) and is cut thin, but not paper thin.
2. Choose your Marinade. After you’ve selected your meat, its on to how to get flavor into it. The best marinades often share three common ingredients: oil, acid, and a salty liquid, preferably a protease. Now what is a protease you may ask? Protease is an enzyme that breaks down molecules into smaller units or, for the purposes of our fajitas, the muscle protein called myosin will dissolve, or break down, in a salty liquid, leaving the meat with a looser texture and a better ability to retain moisture. Hence, the necessary ingredient, a salty liquid. You can use whatever you have on hand, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, etc — but my all time fave is Worcestershire sauce. It’s derived from anchovies, so it has a salty, briny, bite that lends itself perfectly to the meat. Yum! So once you’ve decided on your three components, you can spice it up with whatever other seasonings you like, my personal faves are garlic, hot chili powder, and cumin.
Now, you can marinate your beef quickly (30 minutes – 1 hour) or up to 36 hours in the refrigerator. Ideally, your meat should sit in the marinade for 3-6 hours, but! If the shorter time appeals to you, or your trying to whip this up quick, at least let it sit for 30 minutes so some of the flavor penetrates and the protease starts to break down the meat.
3. Cooking. Rule number one for cooking fajias: your grill should be as hot as it can get! Rule #2 for cooking fajitas: You grill should be as hot as hot can get! Rule #3 for cooking fajitas….you get it right? You want to assault your beef with heat in order to get that charred exterior while maintaining a juicy medium-rare to medium inside. Yasssss. So that means, once the beef goes on the grill…you watch it like a hawk, because it’s not going to take very long to cook. Maybe 3-4 minutes per side, depending on how you like your meat cooked.
4. Resting. Once your meat is cooked and off the grill, cover it with aluminum foil and allow it to rest for at least 10 minutes. This will allow the juices to distribute throughout the meat and sty in the meat when you go to carve it up!
5. Carving. Last but certainly not least, you want to eat right!? So you need to cut your fajita steak properly. Cutting the steak against the grain is the most important thing to remember. Most cuts of beef for fajitas have very pronounced grains, or the lines running through the meat. Cutting your meat with the grain, or along these lines, will result in a super chewy, tough piece of steak. Cutting on the bias, or against the grain, increases the steak tenderness and chew-ability. See image below for clarification:
Got it? Good! And with that, you are all set to prepare the best fajitas you’ve ever had. I served mine up with some charred tortillas, sauted peppers and onions and all the avocado and jalapeno I could stand! Enjoy!
See ya next time!
- 1-2 Pound Skirt, Flank or Hangar Steak
- 2-3 tbsp. Oil Canola or Almond Oil
- 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce or Soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
- 1 tsp. Liquid Smoke
- 2 tsp Garlic Ground
- 2 tsp Hot chili powder
- 2 tsp Cumin Ground
- 1 tsp Coriander Ground
In a large plastic bag, combine all ingredients together.
Remove air from bag and allow meat to marinade for at least 30 minutes, but up to 6 hours.
When ready to cook, preheat grill over high heat.
Once your grill is hot, using a dishtowel or paper towels and tongs, lightly grease the surface of your grill.
Add meat, cooking 3-4 minutes per side, or until the internal temp reaches 135 degrees F (medium rare). Cook longer for more well done meat.
Remove meat from heat and cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Cut meat against the grain, and serve with your favorite fajita toppings. Enjoy!