In 2006, I lived and taught for most of the year in remote southern Sudan with my close friend Jen, who was, at the time, essentially my practice spouse. We did everything together that year–from the logistics of our flight there to navigating the perils of never-drying laundry in the rainy season. We lived together in a mud hut called a tukul, and in the course of a year, came up with countless great ideas for how to spend time without electricity. We did what most people would do…wrote letters…read books by headlamp…made lip-sync videos of one another singing to classic tunes such as Jojo’s “Baby, It’s You.”
Yeah…we had some long nights there.
Often, as a last resort, we would play rousing and increasingly ridiculous games of Would You Rather. Our favorite question – and an all too possible reality – was, “Would you rather wake up with a bat, a rat, or a lizard in your mosquito net with you?” Shudder. While I now have ample access to electricity, I still love to play games like Would You Rather on car trips with Eric – mostly because he’s trapped and has to participate. One time I asked him this Would-You-Rather-like question:
If you had to pick only one international cuisine to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
While I vacillated between Italian, Greek, Thai, and Indian for about 20 minutes, Eric settled on Mexican in about 22 seconds. Needless to say, we make a lot from that food group around here. I first made these fajitas last summer when we had our first real, grown-up grill outside our first, real grown-up house. I was looking to expand my grilling repertoire from burgers and brats and found this recipe while combing through the Taste of Home cookbook I got for our wedding (I actually received count them FOUR of the same cookbook, none of which I was registered for).
These fajitas are an explosion of summer in your mouth. The marinade is super easy to throw together the night before, and the chicken stays really moist as a result. I love how summery these fajitas are-tomatoes, peppers, corn, cilantro, lettuce, onions- and how all that freshness balances out the smoky flavor of the chicken. Enjoy these with a Wisconsin-sized portion of cheddar cheese and a handful of lime chips and guac, a combination that can make even the worst of days better.
Question: If YOU had to choose one cuisine to eat for the rest of all time, what would it be and why?
Grilled Chicken Fajitas
(Adapted from The Taste of Home Cookbook)
(Yield: 4-6 servings)
I added just a few things to this recipe. First, I used olive oil instead of vegetable oil. Next, I doubled the lime and cumin in the marinade, and I added some cilantro to it as well. When brushing the vegetables before grilling, I squirted a lime wedge into the oil that I used. Can’t get enough citrus right now. Finally, I added corn cut fresh off the cob to the mix. The crunch added a lot to the texture, the yellow was pretty, and the sweetness of fresh corn pretty much fantastic.
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
4 tbsp. fresh lime juice (about 1 hearty lime) + about a 1/2 lime more for squeezing
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 (heaping) tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. chopped onion (the redder the better!)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried oregano (up to 1 tsp. if you’re an oregano fiend)
1/2 (heaping) tsp. ground cumin
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch squares for kabobs
1 medium red onion, peeled and cut into fourths or sixths for kabobs
about 3 ears of corn, husked and cut off the cob
tortilla shells of your choosing
fajita toppings: shredded cheddar, lettuce, fresh cilantro, green onions, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, lime juice, guacamole, etc.)
In a large, resealable bag (or bowl with lid), mix the vinegar, lime juice, 1 tbsp. oil, worcestershire sauce, 1 tbsp. chopped onion, garlic, salt, oregano, and cumin. Make a couple of thin slashes on both sides of the chicken with a knife and put into marinade; coat all sides. Seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, best over night.
Coat grill rack with nonstick spray before starting grill. Drain and discard marinade from chicken. Skewer the peppers and onions and lightly brush with 1 tbsp. olive oil mixed with lime juice.
Once grill is at medium heat, grill chicken until almost done (about 10 minutes). At this point, add the vegetables. Chicken is done when juices run clear and is no longer pink inside. The vegetables should be tender-crisp with some blackened edges from the grill.
Take chicken and vegetables off of the grill. Slice chicken into thin strips, and finely chop the peppers and onions.
Warm tortillas. Add chicken, peppers & onions, and any toppings you desire. Tell yourself you’re not going to eat two, but then do it anyway.
Recipe Note: If you don’t have kabob sticks, you can cut each bell peppers and onions into halves, brush with the oil/lime mixture, and just use tongs to grill them instead. I use kabob sticks because I think they’re easier to turn, and the onions don’t fall apart.