At the Hacienda de Hammondos Mexican night is always greeted with enthusiasm and happiness especially when the menu features my nearly famous Chicken Fajitas. I have to be honest, there really isn’t anything that special about my fajitas, after all, fajitas are pretty basic Mexican fare, other than they taste so fresh and so home-made and I use much larger chunks of chicken than what you would find when ordering fajitas at your favorite Mexican cantina.
I believe that great dishes always begin with great ingredients, so I am a little picky about the fixings for my fajitas. I start with boneless skinless chicken breasts and fresh bell peppers, red chills, Spanish onion, and a sweet onion.
First off, I chunk the onions, cut the green peppers into strips and dice the chili peppers. Next I cut the chicken breasts into bite size chunks about the size of a sea scallop.
The second step of prep work on the fajitas is where the magic takes place. I place the chicken chunks into a large bowl and season them with sea salt, black pepper, chili powder, cumin and an Old El Paso cheesy taco seasoning packet. This process mimics a dry rub and I let the seasoned chicken rest for an hour or two in the refrigerator, absorbing the spices.
I go ahead and sauté the vegetables in a wok, until the onions just become translucent and the pepper strips are crisp-tender, then I remove the vegetables from the Wok and place them in a warming bowl and lightly season them with chili powder, cumin and black pepper. This is a crucial step because it is important that the vegetables maintain a bit of a crisp texture, yet be sautéed enough to be tender. I set the vegetables aside and right before serving the fajitas I reheat them in the microwave.
The chicken chunks are then fried over medium-high heat in a wok or iron skillet and the cooking process along with the cheesy taco seasoning dry rub tends to create what I will describe as a “gravy” and it is this “gravy” that makes my fajitas so unique. To finish the dish, I warm the tortillas on a griddle and accompany the vegetables and the chicken with sour cream, four-cheese Mexican cheese, salsa verde and hot sauce.
My family probably enjoys Mexican food almost as much as Italian food, although Italian still wins in a close race, which actually reminds me of another nice thing about this fajita recipe. If you have enough chicken, peppers and onion left over it makes an excellent base for a killer chicken cacciatore the next day. It’s a creative and delicious use of your left over fajita fixings indeed, and thrifty as well. I usually start by stirring a cup or two of red wine into the left over veggies and chicken and heat just until it starts to simmer, then I add my favorite spaghetti sauce and simmer for about 20 minutes. While the sauce is simmering, prepare your angel hair pasta. Plate the pasta after draining and use a slotted spoon to top the pasta with the cacciatore ragout, that way the pasta sauce is heavy on the peppers and chicken. It’s yummy and resourceful.