According to Rob Walsh in "The Tex-Mex Cookbook," the first fajita originated in 1973 at Ninfa's, located on Navigation Street in Houston, TX.
Of course, any claim like that is surely met with controversy as others claim it was invented much earlier, perhaps the 1940s when Hispanic ranch hands using typically undesired cuts of meat (head, intestines, diaphragm) would marinate these in lime juice and serve them on flour tortillas with all the fixin's. At an outdoor festival in 1969, Sonny Falcon took skirt steak, some salt and pepper, and cutting against the grain made little chunks of meat out of it and wrapped it in a tortilla. On and on and on....
Here is a great recipe for chicken fajitas. It has some elements of the classics and then some. You can do this with skirt steak too; just follow the same procedure except cut the steak against the grain when finished. This is also one of the few instances where I use a commercial spice blend in my cooking: Stubb's Chili-Lime Spice Rub . It's quite good.
1 pound of chicken breasts, filleted
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 TSP table salt
1 TBS ground cumin
2 TBS olive oil
Juice of two limes (lemons can be a sub)
Stubb's Chili-Lime Spice Rub
In a bowl large enough to put the chicken in, add the garlic and salt and with a spatula mash into a paste. Mix in the cumin, then the olive oil and then the lime juice. Toss in the chicken and coat; place in fridge for 30 minutes.
Get your grill going. You can do these on the stove too but the grill is preferred. A hickory-based fire is awesome here.
Remove the chicken from the fridge and sprinkle some Chili-Lime rub to each side (as much as you want). Gently press the rub in with your fingers.
Grill chicken over direct heat for about 1½ - 2 minutes per side. You don't want to over cook it, hence why you filet them to start with. Cut each piece of chicken, along the grain, into about 5 - 6 strips.
Serve immediately with warm flour tortillas and your favorite condiments, such as salsa, sour cream, cheese, and the suggestions below.
Pico de Gallo
- ½ medium minced yellow onion
- 2 Roma tomatoes, seeds removed and cut into ¼ inch bits
- 1 Jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and minced
- Juice of one lime
- Combine all the above ingredients and add a big pinch of salt
Grilled Onions & Peppers
- 1 medium yellow onion, halved and cut into ½ inch strips
- 1 bell pepper (color doesn't matter), halved, seeds removed, and cut into ½ strips
- 2 Jalapeno peppers, seeds removed, and cut into ¼ inch strips
- Combine the onion and peppers in a large bowl.
- Sprinkle ½ TSP salt and 7 - 10 cranks of black pepper, toss, and then toss in about 2 TBS of olive oil.
- Rest for 10 minutes then grill over high heat in a grill basket or a hot pan.
- Get a good char on these but take them off before they get floppy. You want them to stay crunchy.