As a Mexican food fiend, Cinco de Mayo tops my list of favorite holidays for it invites everyone to celebrate the national heritage, and the American-spin of that heritage (especially cuisine and beverages!) of our neighbors to the south. What better time to break out some smokin’ hot chicken fajitas and roasted corn salsa?
And when fajitas are on the menu…I just have to include this…I immediately think of one of my favorite Friends episodes: The One Where Ross is Fine. “Weird?! What, what’s weird? The only thing weird would be if someone didn’t like Mexican food, because I’m making FAJITAS!” The rest of the clip features Ross and margaritas—also funny.
For the chicken, I adapted Paula Deen’s Gold Medal Sizzling Fajitas marinade recipe.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
dash of Texas Pete
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Seal the two skinless chicken breasts in the bag for as little as 20 minutes in the fridge. I prepared my chicken before work, and cooked it for dinner, giving the marinade extra time to work its magic.
ROASTED CORN SALSA
—making up the exact amounts here. Just go with what you like, but try these basic components.
roasted corn of two cobs
1/3 cup green bell pepper, diced
3 green onions, sliced
3 tablespoons-ish pickled jalapeño, diced* I use jarred peppers primarily because I think the degree of heat is more predictable
5 leaves basil, julienned
a few good glugs of red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil to toss
juice of 1/2 a lime
salt and pepper
Place the corn cobs, still in the husk, in a 400° oven for about 20-25 minutes. I could have boiled the corn, but I had a lot going on on the stove top. Roasting is healthy, and for around 20 minutes it leaves the kernels crisp and fresh, not mushy. The corn looks like this when done (By the way, the foil contains the tortillas I added to the oven for the last 15 minutes of cooking.)
Shuck the corn, and slice it off the cob. Toss with remaining salsa ingredients.
CHICKEN, PEPPERS, ONION
I preheated my indoor heavy duty grilling pan until it was smoking, then grilled the chicken for about 5-6 minutes on each side. Meanwhile, I used a separate pan for grilling a medium-sized yellow onion (halved, and sliced) and the leftover bell pepper (sliced). Coat the bottom of the pan with vegetable oil, and season the onion and pepper with salt and pepper.
With all of the components ready, it’s time to build the perfect FAJITA! I layered mine up with spinach, grilled chicken, veggies, salsa, lite sour cream, grape tomatoes, lime juice and black pepper.
The fajita has a great base in the warmed tortilla, crunchy spinach leaves and grilled peppers and onions. Add to this the chicken, which was tender and moist with subtle hints of the marinade, particularly the lemon, and you have a meal. But the salsa added a nice note of sweetness and heat. I adore green onions and basil separately, but together, they are a masterpiece in this salsa. And every Tex-Mex dish is improved ten times by adding sour cream and the squeeze of a lime. As little as I grill chicken, now that I have a go-t0 marinade, I may try to get in the habit of planning on that for at least one meal a week. Sure could take the place of a turkey sandwich. Likewise, the salsa is a keeper recipe. It was excellent with chicken, but I could also see it working with fish, shrimp or scallops. Or forget that. Just a bag of tortilla chips will do.