The story of the fajita is deeply intertwined with Texas and its beef culture.
In the early 1900’s, the lowly skirt steak was a favored commodity in the Rio Grande Valley for vaqueros during cattle roundups. The fajita, with grilled beef, vegetables, tortillas and condiments continued on as a traditional dish in homes and local restaurants.
No surprise that its popularity would surface in other areas of Texas. In the early 80’s the sizzling fajita became a real happening at the Austin Hyatt Regency — and still retains a legendary presence. Fajita offerings soon appeared everywhere in Austin. Restaurants and fast food sites featured diverse adaptations with chicken, shrimp, and vegetables that ultimately elevated it to national status.
It’s fajita adaptations that keep it a beloved staple in my kitchen. The whole point is to keep these stovetop creations quick. Since I love a good side of black beans with fajitas, during a recent session I simply added them to the skillet instead.
Turns out, a casual cupful of black beans dotted amongst the onion, red and green peppers, provides depth, boosts overall flavor, and extends the chicken without notice. A nice touch — and something I should have thought of sooner!
Adapted from Fajitas, Counter Cuisine Cookbook
¾ lb chicken, boneless, skinless breast or thigh, cut bite-size
½ tsp each salt, cumin and dried oregano
1 tsp chile powder
1 clove garlic, mince
2 Tbsp lime juice
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided
½ large red onion, strips
1 clove garlic, slivers
1 each red and pasilla peppers, seed, in strips
1 cup black beans, rinse and drain
salt and pepper
Make dressing: In small container combine salt thru olive oil and set aside.
Marinate the chicken. Drizzle with approx. 1 Tbsp dressing to coat; set aside up to 1 hour.
Cook vegetables. Over medium high coat a wide skillet with 2 tsp oil, cook onion and garlic 1-2 minutes to soften. Add the peppers, dust lightly with sat and pepper and continue for 2-3 minutes to soften. Remove to a holding plate.
To finish. Drizzle oil to coat pan, add the drained chicken slices and sauté until firm and taking on color. Toss in the drained beans; add the vegetables, drizzle all with remaining dressing and heat well.
To serve, place portions on warmed tortillas. Top with cheese, cilantro, lime juice, salsa or guacamole. Serves 8-12