Friday, August 26, 2011

Cook's Illustrated's Chicken Fajitas

I apologize for this terrible picture. Believe me when I say this is a great recipe!

There is this tiny restaurant called Acapulco about 20 minutes away that Darin and I like to frequent. In fact, it is the only Mexican restaurant that I like. Normally, if we try a new restaurant, I always just stick to something I know and like- chicken fajitas. Seasoned, grilled chicken with sauteed vegetables- what's not to like (and difficult to mess up)? Well, some Mexican restaurants just can't seem to get it right- the chicken is too dry, the seasoning is lacking, etc. Luckily for Acapulco, I discovered their Acapulco Taco Salad (thanks Naomi), because well, their chicken fajitas are... meh. Not good.

I wanted chicken fajitas tonight, so it wasn't at all surprising that Cook's Illustrated had a successful recipe. I am so glad I tried it! The chicken marinade was outstanding, and it was the winner in this recipe. I could eat the chicken by itself, it was that good. I paired it with some Latin Rice and tomato salad, and it was a delicious meal. Definitely a winner!

Note: This would be a quick weeknight meal option- just make sure to marinate the chicken the night before or while you are at work during the day.
Here is the chicken straight off the grill

Cook's Illustrated's Chicken Fajitas

CI’s note: The chicken and vegetables in these fajitas are only mildly spicy. For more heat, include the jalapeno seeds and ribs when mincing. When you head outside to grill, bring along a clean kitchen towel or a large piece of foil in which to wrap the tortillas and keep them warm as they come off the grill. Although the chicken and vegetables have enough flavor to stand on their own, accompaniments (guacamole, salsa, sour cream, shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, and lime wedges) can be offered at the table.

My note: An easy way to get the most juice from your citrus is to microwave (yes, really) them for 15 seconds. After warming, roll the citrus against your counter and you can feel the juices rolling around inside. Cut, and juice!


  • ⅓ cup juice from 2 to 3 limes (I used 2 limes)
  • 4-5 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ tsp brown sugar
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • 1½ Tbsp minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • table salt and ground black pepper
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1½ pounds), trimmed of fat, tenderloins removed, pounded to ½-inch thickness
  • 1 large red onion (about 14 ounces), peeled and cut into ½-inch-thick rounds (do not separate rings)
  • 1 large red bell pepper (about 10 ounces), quartered, stemmed, and seeded
  • 1 large green bell pepper (about 10 ounces), quartered, stemmed, and seeded
  • 8-12 (6-inch) flour tortillas

Make the marinade:
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lime juice, 2-3 Tbsp oil, garlic, Worcestershire, brown sugar, jalapeno, cilantro, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¾ teaspoon pepper.
2. Reserve ¼ cup marinade in a small bowl; set aside. Add another teaspoon salt to the remaining marinade.
3. Place the chicken in the marinade; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 15 minutes.

Prepare the grill:
4. Brush both sides of the onion rounds and the peppers with the remaining 2 Tbsp oil and season with salt and pepper.
5. For a charcoal grill... Meanwhile, using a large chimney starter, ignite 6 quarts of charcoal briquettes and burn until the coals are fully ignited, about 20 minutes. Empty the coals into the grill, spreading them in a single layer; place an additional 20 unlit coals over the lit coals on one side of grill to create a two-level fire. Position the grill grate over the coals and heat the grate for 5 minutes; scrape clean with a grill brush.
For a gas grill, light all burners and turn to high, cover, and heat the grill until hot, about 15 minutes; scrape the grill grate clean with a grill brush. Leave one burner on high heat while turning the remaining burner(s) down to medium.

Start grilling!
6. Grill the Chicken- Remove the chicken from the marinade and place it smooth side down on the hotter side of the grill; discard the remaining marinade.
7. Grill the Onion & Peppers- Place the onion rounds and peppers (skin side down) on the cooler side of the grill. Cook the chicken until it’s well browned, 4 to 5 minutes; using tongs, flip the chicken and continue grilling until it’s no longer pink when cut into with a paring knife or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers about 160 degrees, 4 to 5 minutes longer. Meanwhile, cook the peppers until spottily charred and crisp-tender, 8 to 10 minutes, turning once or twice as needed; cook the onions until tender and charred on both sides, 10 to 12 minutes, turning every 3 to 4 minutes. (I didn't bother grilling my vegetables- I just sauteed them in a large skillet.)
8. When the chicken and vegetables are done, transfer them to a large plate; tent with foil to keep warm.
9. Warm up the tortillas- Working in 2 or 3 batches, place the tortillas in a single layer on the cooler side of the now-empty grill and cook until warm and lightly browned, about 20 seconds per side (do not grill too long or the tortillas will become brittle). As the tortillas are done, wrap them in a kitchen towel or a large sheet of foil. (I microwaved the tortillas at a time for 10-15 seconds.)
10. Separate the onions into rings and place them in a medium bowl; slice the bell peppers lengthwise into ¼-inch strips and place them in the bowl with the onions. Add 2 Tbsp reserved unused marinade to the vegetables and toss well to combine.
11. Slice the chicken into ¼-inch strips and toss with the remaining 2 Tbsp reserved marinade in another bowl; arrange the chicken and vegetables on a large platter and serve with the warmed tortillas.

Source: Originally from Cook's Illustrated, as seen on The Way The Cookie Crumbles


Krissy said...

Thanks to Bridget, this is one of our favorites of the whole summer! I may be grilling in the dead of winter for these :)

Christina @ This Woman Cooks! said...

I love chicken fajitas! Surprisingly I've never made them at home, only order them in restaurants. I really want to try this!

jacqui + erik said...

YUM! looks amazing! we will try these for sure! thanks!

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