Tex-Mex and American Mexican food was not a part of my childhood. My parents were not a fan of it. Weird I know. The closest thing I got to Mexican food was the pre-packaged hard shell Ortega meal kits. They had bright yellow cheese, taco seasoning packets and this watery red salsa/hot sauce packets. It was delicious! I could easily take down a 5 or 10 tacos. I was a growing boy and needed lots of fuel ok! We rarely had this treat as it was an expensive item for our family. It took a few meal kits to provide one meal. It was a once in a while treat that I truly enjoyed. This was my entry point. I had no idea there was so much more to the cuisine.
My next exposure to American Mexican food came after I starting working in a restaurant. The chef constantly exposed me to the food from around the world. When he found out that I’ve never had Tex-Mex it became a priority to visit this one on Monday night when his restaurant was closed. He broke it down into two areas. One of which we did not have around in our small Ohio town. What we did have were a couple chain restaurants. You know what I’m talking about. The ones with pale red and bland rice. Refried beans so gummy they could be used as glue to build a house. Cheese so grainy that you could take rust off a bumper. Yeah, that stuff. It was so tasty! Mainly because it was covered with a dusting of salt that of age adults would combat with cervezas. You can’t knock it. The restaurant was always full and people loved it. Hell, they still love it.
I tried lots of things during our visits. Chimichangas. Burritos. Enchiladas. Red Salsa. Green Salsa. The table hot sauce which was way too hot for me at the time. Out of everything I tried, there was one bright spot on the menu. The North Star of Tex-Mex. The holy grain of the American Mexican restaurant experience. FUCKING STEAK FAJITAS!!!
If you pay attention to the server, you will see them parade Steak Fajitas around the restaurant like a god damn spectacle. And they should. Its caramelized meat and vegetables on a steaming hot platter. As they weave through the tables of a restaurant, they leave a trail of smoke, steam, and aroma that is so hard to ignore. People will stop conversations just to watch this spectacle. It will silence crying babies. It will save you from that boring story someone is trying to tell. If you haven’t ordered, you truly start to rethink your life decisions….eh I mean your food decisions. Then the whispering begins. You look at the person next to you and say “Oooooh I’m having that!” Then that person gets frustrated because they want the same thing but you said it first. Victory is yours! (Why do people shy away from ordering the same item as someone else at their table. That’s a discussion for another day). You can’t wait to tell the server of your glorious decision and for the restart of the Steak Fajita spectacle.
This is what I think about when I make fajitas at home. Except, there is no parade. No one whispers and fights over who decided to get it first. But you can experience that smoke, steam & caramelized aroma in your own home. That is the experience I’m trying to create and what makes this bastardized version of fajitas tolerable.
I’m writing this recipe as a single serving, but by no means does this mean you have to make it this way. If you look in my frig on any given day you will typically see a tub of rice, chopped raw veggies & pre-cooked meats that are used to create different types of meals. This is an example of one of those meals. You can also alter the volumes to make this fit your macros and 2x or 4x the ingredients if you’re feeding a larger group.
- I’ve been adding cauliflower rice to this meal lately. It adds more volume because I like to feel full and I needed a way to do that without making a big impact to my macros. Cauliflower surprising includes more protein than I thought. 1 oz of cauliflower has 0g Fat, 2.8g Carb, & 1g Protein. It's a sneaky way to get a little more protein. Manders provided the cauliflower recommendation and it's been working well with this combo.
- Optional Toppings can be used to change the flavor and macros of this recipe. Feel free to mix in your choice of options to the base ingredients. Some days you may need or want cheese. Somedays it's avocado. Somedays you’re craving spicy. Its a choose your own adventure kind of list.
- 150g Skirt Steak
- 150g cooked White Rice (brand or type is your choice. I like Basmati or Jasmine)
- 56g raw Cauliflower rice
- 21g raw Green peppers
- 21g raw Red peppers
- 42g raw White onions
- Hot sauce
- Cilantro leaves
- Red Salsa
- Green Salsa
- Chopped Tomatoes
- Chopped Avocado
- Cojita cheese
- Trader Joes Queso
- Sour Cream
- Fajita Marinade/Sauce
- Fajita Spice Mix
- Prep and measure out all of your ingredients before you start cooking
- Add your choice of fat or cooking spray to a 10” skillet and set on high until you start to see wisps of smoke coming from the pan.
- Add the onion, peppers, and cauliflower to the pan. Toss or stir to combine. Using a spatula smooth out to one layer covering the bottom of the entire pan.
- Cook until you start to get the aroma of a burning grill smell. This can take anywhere from 5-10 mins depending on your pan and cooking surface.
- Add your meat to the pan and toss or stir with the veggies. Again, using a spatula smooth out to one layer covering the bottom of the entire pan.
- Wait until you get that burning grill smell again, around 5-10 mins. Then add the cooked rice to the pan. Toss or stir to combine.
- Once the rice has warmed up (about 2-3 mins), transfer to a bowl and add your choice of toppings.
Macros F:12 C:47 P:37
Author: Josh McAtee, @joshskitchn