steak fajitas

This past fall we split an order of a quarter steer with a friend of mine. The animal was organic, grass-fed, and lived on a farm not far from Madison. It's good meat. Since I didn't eat meat regularly as an adult until I got pregnant with Daniel (I craved protein and it never let up!), I am pretty clueless as to how to cook it. Ground beef isn't so difficult (taco meat, hamburgers), but we have all these roasts and steaks that take actual culinary skill to prepare. My mom's coming up for a week next month, and I'm hoping we can do a roast together so I can learn how to do that. But steaks? I'm not a big fan of steak, never have been, and I know that they can be tricky to get right. I tend to be paranoid about undercooked meat, so if I tried to cook a steak, it would probably be completely overdone and tough and, frankly, a waste of time and good meat.

When meat is cut up into little pieces, I find it much less intimidating. When it's combined with other things like vegetables, I find it much more appetizing. Thus, I've come up with one solution to this particular problem: steak fajitas. They can be rather labor-intensive to prepare, but they're so delicious, they're worth the effort.

First of all, I make my own tortillas. I think I've posted this recipe before, but that was a long while ago, so you get it again. Once you make your own tortillas, it's awfully hard to go back. If you live in Chicago or New York or someplace with lots of Hispanic/Latino markets with fresh, cheap tortillas, consider yourself lucky. Madison is not such a place, so I make my own.

Flour Tortillas (1 recipe makes about 16 flatbreads; I usually do half for me and Stu)
4 cups flour (can sub up to half with whole wheat)
1.5 tsp salt
1.5 tsp baking powder
Cut in:
1 stick unsalted butter OR 1/2 cup shortening OR 1/2 cup lard
Add and knead just for a minute or so:
1 and 1/4 cup warm water, more if the dough is dry, less if it's sticky
Cover and let rest for an hour or so.
Divide dough into 12-16 balls of equal size, depending on how big you want the tortillas to be. Heat a cast iron skillet* over medium heat. Do not add oil; the skillet should be seasoned, but dry. One at a time, roll the balls into flat rounds. To cook, place the tortilla on the hot pan, flip after 10 seconds, flip again after about 30 seconds, then remove when it starts to brown, but not smoke.

Steak filling
Slice 1 medium onion, 1 green or bell pepper, and 1-2 cloves of garlic, mix with 2 T. fajita seasoning (Penzey's is good) or 1 T. chili powder and set aside in a bowl.
Slice a steak of your choosing (I've used tenderloin, porterhouse, and sirloin because I really don't know the difference...) into very thin slices. Sprinkle with fajita seasoning or chili powder, then add to a very hot cast iron skillet with a little oil and stir fry 1-2 minutes, or until pieces are browned through. Remove meat from heat and save in a bowl. Turn heat to medium and sauté vegetable mixture 3-5 minutes, or until onions are clear. Add meat and stir until everything's heated through.

Wrap the filling in tortillas with any or all of the following:
chopped lettuce
chopped tomatoes
sour cream
shredded cheese (jack, queso fresco, etc)
avocado or guacamole

I can eat these until, well, until the cows come home.

*If you don't have a cast iron skillet, get one. Lodge is a good brand and you can get an 8" skillet for, like, 20 bucks. Regular non-stick could do in a pinch, but it's far, far inferior. Plus, dude, teflon kills birds if it gets too hot. You don't want to mess with that.


Becca said…
I would highly recommend visiting Good Eats Fan Page, and look for the transcripts of anything cow related. Alton Brown does a great job breaking down the different types of beef cuts, how best to cook them, and sharing the differences about the various cuts and WHY you cook them a particular way. My mom was one of those who would "braise" every cut (i.e. boil it in a pan of water until it was a hockey puck) and insisted on well-done for every steak. I learned how to handle beef from Alton.

I have a beef stroganoff recipe I make using sirloin, if you're interested.
Suze said…
Sure, Becca. You could post it on ROUS...and thanks for the tip on cooking beef! I've got plenty of books with instructions, but I think video or hands-on would be better.
Strangeite said…
Along with Becca, I can't recommend enough the mighty Alton Brown. His receipe for cooking a steak is by far the best method.

Put a cast iron skillet into a cold oven and turn it on to 500 degrees. Once the oven reaches temperature pull the skillet out and place it upon the burner set to high. Put your steak in. Let it sit for 30 seconds. DO NOT TOUCH!! Flip it and let it cook for 30 more seconds. DO NOT TOUCH!!! Remove from heat and place into the 500 degree oven. Cook for 2 minutes. Flip steak. Cook for 2 more minutes.

You will have a perfectly cooked medium rare steak with the most beautiful sear you will ever see. For medium add 1 minute to each side in the oven.

Only a sado masochist would cook a steak past medium.
Animal said…
Yum! Uh...when's dinner?
Becca said…
I forgot to say earlier that I am a big believer in cast iron. I have two 10" skillets, and I got a cast-iron two burner griddle for Christmas. I've used it almost every day since!
Mrs. Allroro said…
I very much enjoyed your joke at the end of this post, Suze.

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