Fajitas are pure Tex-Mex food. They originated along the Rio Grande River on
the Texas-Mexico border and were eaten by cattle wranglers. The skirt steak is the
traditional cut used and was reserved primarily for the chief cowboy. Other cuts
of beef can be substituted, such as flank steak or sirloin, but the skirt is by
far the most tender, flavorful and authentic.
You'll find no cast iron griddle with the sizzling bell peppers and onions
in this recipe. This was developed mainly by chain restaurants and is in no way
a part of true Tex-Mex fajitas. You can add them if you wish. This recipe is authentic.
2 pounds beef skirt steak
1/2 onion, halved and sliced thin
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons powdered red chiles
3 pickled jalapenos, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons jalapeno pickling liquid *
1 tablespoon corn oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce (optional - if grilling on cast iron or under the broiler)
1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke (optional - if grilling on cast iron or under the broiler)
* This is the liquid used to pickle and flavor the jalapenos. It is basically
white vinegar with added spices, and there is always ample liquid in the jar or
can to use in this, without leaving the remaining jalapenos dry.
Place half of the onions in the bottom of a nonreactive dish.
Mix the cumin, powdered red chiles, chopped jalapenos and garlic together
in a small bowl, then rub on all sides of the meat. Put the skirt steak into
the dish on top of the onions. Pour the lime juice and the jalapeno liquid over
all areas to coat. Sprinkle the remaining onions on top of the meat. Cover and
refrigerate at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight, turning once.
Heat the grill or broiler until hot. Fajitas need to cook close to a very
high heat source, in order to sear the outside but still leave the interior
Mix together the oil and, if you are using them, the soy sauce and Liquid
Smoke. Brush or spoon the oil mixture onto the meat surfaces. Grill or broil
about 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until the outside is brown and slightly
charred, and the inside is still slightly pink.
Remove the meat to a cutting board. Let sit 5 minutes before slicing to
Cut the meat into thin strips that can be easily rolled into tortillas.
Serve with warm, soft flour tortillas and fresh pico de gallo or salsa fresca.
Only use the soy sauce and Liquid Smoke if you are cooking on the stovetop with
cast iron or under the broiler. The soy sauce helps brown the steak, and the Liquid
Smoke gives the fajitas that grilled flavor.
Be sure to use chile powder, not chili powder. Chili powder is a mixture of spices,
and chile powder is pure ground chile.