Monday 30 December 2013

Chicken Fajitas

"Hmmm...what should we make for dinner?" I asked my children.

"Thai wraps...NO...FAJITA WRAPS!!!" my son shouted out.

Ohhhh...yes...wise boy. This we shall make. I think this might even be my favourite meal.  It certainly makes the top ten. It has spice, contains a respectable number of vegetables, and does not require my children to use cutlery (that's silverware to you yankees). It is a bit shopping heavy (ripe avocados, I am looking at you), but so worthwhile. I also love ordering it at restaurants; I get so excited to hear the sizzling plate as it travels from the kitchen to my table, causing heads to turn as it does. And there's the fun of assembly - a dose of the still hot pepper mix, a spoonful of guacamole, a dollop of sour cream, a dash of salsa, all added together in your own preferred proportions, each texture and flavour balancing out another. Heaven, I tell you.

We have been making this meal for many years, so we don't really follow a recipe as such any more, we just do a rough mix of the same things each time. Starting with this stuff. 

Above are the basic ingredients for the chicken, pepper, and onion mix.  If you want to be really clever, you prep all the spicy meat marinade the day before and let the flavours soak in. In all the 10 or so years I've been making this, I think I've done that all of one time. Occasionally I manage to do it on the morning of the day I'm making it, but usually it's just the first thing I do on the evening we're eating it. I've never noticed much of a difference. I mean, the spice packets you get at the supermarket are great, and you don't have to marinate the meat in those, do you?

So first, I put in some coriander seed for grinding up in my mortar and pestle.

Then in went cumin. Plenty of cumin.

Then just a hint of star anise. This much is usually enough - a little carries a long way.

I then add some paprika, oregano, and lots of garlic. I usually put as many as 10 cloves in, certainly no fewer than 6. I used to put in chilli peppers, but now with three little kids I just use paprika to add similar flavour without the heat of chilli, and thus avoid my children wiping their tongues on paper towels in an effort to lesson the effects of those burning oils in their mouths. We've been known to stick hot sauce on the table for the adults. If you think I'm missing a crucial spice, though, let me know.

Then in goes juice from a couple of limes - this time I used three as I had a big bag of them, but I've been known to just use one.

All that, with a bit of salt and a dash of vegetable oil, gets mixed up with the sliced chicken breast and put in the fridge to marinate. Oh, and some onion too.

I sliced it fairly thick so that it was easy for my daughter to pick it out of hers. And we had a guest coming, and I didn't know if he was an onion hater, so I thought I'd make it easy for him if he was.

But he wasn't.

Anyway, it's how they chop them in restaurants too.

And in a separate bowl, I sliced up some pepper. I always make sure to "accidentally" leave this bowl within reach of my kids, because they both love raw pepper. My daughter avoids eating cooked pepper, but she'll eat a whole raw pepper by herself quite easily. So I leave this out for a while and they "steal" slices (their giggling and crunching give them away), and this way I get my kids to eat the peppers, if not necessarily inside their wraps.

So while those slowly disappeared at the side, I made the dough for the tortilla wraps. Just like I did for Thai wraps (, only this time I just used white bread flour.

And no, I don't know how to do fancy links. All this blogging is still new to me.

While those rested, I made the guacamole. Now I know a lot of people swear by specific recipes and methods for their guacamole. I can't promise mine is the best, but we like it. A lot. One of the best things about it is how easy it is generally to make. I do mine partially in the food processor, but it really isn't necessary - up until last year I just did it by hand.

So you just need onion, avocados, lime, fresh coriander/cilantro, and tomatoes. Chilli is optional, but, you know. Kids. Sheesh.

I don't particularly like the texture of raw onion, so I blitzed mine with some avocado and the coriander/cilantro in the food processor with the juice of a lime.

This gave me a nice base for the rest of it and prevented any huge clumps of leafy greens too.

Then I just mashed in the rest of the avocado with some salt. This helps keep it all a nice texture - not too smooth like a puree, and not too lumpy either.

And I stirred in some chopped tomatoes too.

Once this was all done, I put on clingfilm right on the surface to prevent browning and stuck it in the fridge.

Then I rolled out and cooked the tortillas.

Using the same frying pan, I cleaned out the flour and then dumped in my chicken marinade. Then a baby started squawking and my husband took over.

On top of the cooked chicken went the peppers.

And once that was done, we set in on the table with the tortillas, the guacamole, some sour cream, and some salsa from a shop across town that specialises in spicy Central American food. I have never made a salsa that I thought comparable to a good shop-bought jar, so I leave that condiment to the experts. I am, of course, willing to try any recipe you have for salsa if you think you have a good one. Oh, and you may just notice that bag of crisps sneaking in the shot too - my husband and my kids like the crunch they add to the wraps and put these inside, but I prefer them on the side.

Everyone assembled their own wraps and all were happy with clean plates at the end of dinner. I don't have a recipe to post, really, as it is so variable, so just go try it yourself with your own spices!

Have a good Hogmanay, everyone! If you are looking for me on New Year's Eve, hopefully I'll be sleeping my way into 2014. 

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