Chuck Wagon Inspired Fajitas!
We just returned from a FABULOUS trip. The whole dang family visited the Resort at Paws Up in Montana to do a little dude ranching. My favorite activity was herding the cattle. Yes, this city slicker, hubby, sons and daughters-in-law rode horses down a grassy field, through a running creek and into a wide pasture, to where those cattle slept and lazily swatted their tails.
We rousted them to get them moving. We learned to make a “u” shaped formation, so that the cows are pushed from behind and not allowed to escape on the sides. We nudged them through a barbed fence and into another grassy field. We prodded them along by encouraging them to, “move it cows”. Down a valley and through knee-deep mud, we got those cows to where they needed to be…. another grassy field where they laid right down to sleep and swat! Proud of ourselves, we headed back to the ranch just in time for the chuck wagon dinner.
You know me well enough to know that my favorite experiences are the ones that end with food! In this case, the main course featured huge, and I mean ginormous, tommy hawk steaks grilled over an outdoor fire. We brought our appetites and chowed down on the meal. Steak, baked potatoes, corn bread, grilled veggies and s’mores for dessert. Oh, and the chuck wagon that took us all for a ride around the ranch while the sun set. Yep, it was an experience!
Once home from Paws Up, I created an ode to the memory of our chuck wagon experience. What better way to do just that, than to offer my recipe for steak and veggie fajitas? Cook flanks steaks on an outdoor grill and serve all the fixin’s on the side, so your cowboys and cowgirls can get into the spirit of the great outdoors as they design their own fajita supper.
Messy fajitas are stuffed with juicy steak strips and grilled veggies for the quick weekday meal. Serve with black beans and rice for a completely Tex-Mex experience. It’s a fun meal made to be shared. Yee haw!!
Yield: 6 large fajitas
Preparation Time: 15 minutes for chopping
Cook Time: 30 minutes total for steak and veggies
For flank steak
1 (1 to 1 ½ pound) beef flank steak
2 cups tomato juice
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Juice of 1 medium lemon, about 3 tablespoons
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
6 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced, about 2 tablespoons
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
2 Portobello mushroom caps, stems and gills removed, sliced, about 2 cups
1 large red bell pepper, seeded, veins removed, cut into strips, about 1 cup
1 large green bell pepper, seeded, veins removed, chopped, about 1 cup
1 medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced, about 1 cup
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded, veins removed, cut into strips, about ½ cup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
For cilantro cream
1 cup sour cream
Juice of 1 medium lime, about 1 tablespoon
Chopped fresh cilantro
Grated Monterey Jack cheese
Use a meat mallet to tenderize the flank steak. Sprinkle with pepper. Place the flank steak into a sealable plastic bag. Stir together tomato juice, vinegar, lime juice, Worcestershire and garlic. Pour some of the marinade into the bag. Seal the bag and massage to combine the ingredients. Chill for at least 30 minutes, or all day while you are at work. Save some of the marinade for the veggies.
Place the veggies into a bowl. Sprinkle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
Heat a grill pan or sauté pan over medium high heat. Place the vegetables in the pan and cook over medium heat until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. (You may have to do this in batches based on the size of your pan.) Pour some of the marinade over the vegetables and cook until the liquid bubbles reduce almost completely. Transfer the veggies to a platter.
Remove the flank steak from the bag. Discard the marinade. Season the flank steak with kosher salt. Grill on an outdoor grill until you see grill marks on one side, about 5 to 6 minutes. Turn and cook on the second side, about 5 to 6 minutes more. Transfer to a platter and tent with aluminum foil to rest.
Mix together the sour cream, lime juice and fresh cilantro.
Wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil and heat on the grill on the coolest part. You only want to warm the tortillas, not char them!
Cut the steak across the grain into thin pieces. Lay the slices across the top of the vegetables. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
Assemble the fajitas by laying a warmed tortilla on a plate. Spoon a column of veggies down the center. Top with slices of steak. Add a spoonful of fresh salsa, a dollop of cilantro cream and a sprinkle of cheese. Fold the bottom ¼ of the tortilla over the filling. Fold one side over and then the second side over top. Take a big bite and dig in!
Include your favorite veggie in your favorite fajita. Roasted carrots and sautéed green beans are a great idea.
You can prepare chicken fajitas the same way. Marinate boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs for about an hour. Grill the chicken in the grill pan, and allow to rest while you cook the veggies. Slice the chicken into strips.
Second Helpings for your Ranch Hands
Use leftover flank steak in tomorrow’s dinner salad, or the next day’s lunchbox sandwich special. Chop leftover grilled veggies for the morning’s scrambled eggs or the weekend’s vegetable soup.