Friday, May 20, 2011

Grilled Steak Fajitas

We eat a lot of steak in our house, almost all of it grilled. One of the dishes that I make as often (if not more often) than my husband (who is also a talented cook) is steak fajitas.

First, lets talk equipment. Grilling does not take a lot of fancy stuff, but there are a few essentials that I would recommend. A long-handled silicone basting brush for oiling the grates and/or basting. Grill tongs and spatula. A pair of Orka brand oven mitts, made of silicone and perfect for grabbing hot slippery foods off of open flames (For some reason my kids run around the house with them making barking noises. I have no idea why). A grill tray that will keep vegetables and small foods like shrimp from falling through the grates.

And, lest my lit make you think I'm a bit of a kitchen snob (which I might be, but you know, I really like to cook..), I present you with the photo of our actual grill. Note the handle that once resembled wood, the lid that has been repainted (they make spray paint specifically for grills!), the burners that have been replaced at least once (possibly twice?), and the missing right-hand knob. Hard to see in the photo, but we use a pair of vice grips to adjust the flame on the right half of the grill.

Steak Fajitas

  • 1 pound beef flank steak (a typical one where I shop runs .75-1.5 pounds)
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper*
  • juice from one 1 lime (approx 1-2 Tbsp)
  • olive oil or cooking oil
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1-2 bell peppers
Note: You can get fancier with your steak seasonings, though you really don't need to. My husband's most recent combo included cumin, green chili pepper, garlic powder, and ancho chili powder in addition to salt and pepper. Other easy options are pre-mixed taco seasoning, steak seasoning, chili powder, or fajita seasoning.

  1. Light the grill and turn all burners to high. Allow to preheat 5-10 minutes while prepping the steak and vegetables.
  2. Remove the seeds, stem, and white ribs from inside of the bell peppers and cut the colored part into long 1/2" thick strips.
  3. Remove the papery skin from the onions, plus the two tips. Chop the onions in half and then slice each half into 1/2" pieces. Don't separate the layers too much at this stage. They will cook easier in bigger chunks.
  4. Rub both sides of the steak with salt and pepper (and additional seasonings, if using).
  5. Now that the grill is hot, clean the grates with a grill cleaning brush to remove any baked on food (yes, do it when you're all done too, but a good cleaning at the start keeps tonight's food from sticking).
  6. Turn the grill burners to medium high and lightly grease the grates with the cooking oil using a long-handled grill brush.
  7. If your grill isn't big enough for the vegetable tray and the steak at the same time (ours really isn't), then do the steak first. Cook it over medium-high heat with the lid closed, turning every 2-4 minutes until the outside has a nice char and the inside is your desired doneness.  I usually aim for medium, which takes around 10-12 minutes depending on the thickness of the steak and how many flare-ups you get.
  8. When the steak is done, remove from the heat, pour on the lime juice, cover your platter with foil (or wrap the steak tightly if you haven't yet started the veggies), and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting.  This is really important. If you cut it too soon, the juices will be all over your cutting board instead of in your tortilla.
  9. Spread the veggies on the tray an drizzle with cooking oil. Cook about 5-10 minutes, stirring every 1-2 minutes, until they are as done as you like them. Some folks want them lightly seared, some prefer their onions nearly carmelized.  Keeping the grill lid closed between stirs will help them cook faster.
  10. Slice the steak across the grain, preferably at a slight angle and into the thinnest slices you  can.  The long strings of muscle in flank steak can be chewy but if you slice them so each piece has many super-short strings, it will melt like butter in your mouth.

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