Happy Cinco de Mayo! Today we celebrate...well, what is it we celebrate? Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, is observed primarily in the United States and regionally in Mexico as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. For many of the Americans that "observe" it, it's another excuse to eat good food and drink. How many invites did you get for tacos and margaritas for lunch today? It's a much bigger deal here than it is in Mexico. Why do I know this? I always wanted to be Latina. The olive skin, dark eyes, beautiful language and incredible culture of family always drew me in. Plus, let's face it, when people ask your heritage and you say, "yeah you know those countries in Western Europe? My ancestors are from all of them," it's just not that exciting.
So what's the best way to honor my wanna-be heritage? Fajitas. Now if you think fajitas are Mexican food, you're definitely a gringo. Fajitas are sort of like me, the wanna-be Mexican that is actually American dish. Alright, so after a little research they started in Texas but were made by Mexican vaqueros (cowboys), so I'll give them that.
Either way, they are delicious and are a family tradition at my house. Since I was a kid, we regularly hosted fajitas parties, inviting plenty of friends to join in for the fun. They are fast and easy to make, a crowd-pleaser, relatively healthy, and inexpensive. Great to whip up for 1 person or 20, I cook fajitas probably nearly once a week and to me, and I never get tired of them. So let me share my ever-changing recipe (I don't really measure so it's always different) that is so ingrained in my brain I have never bothered to write it down. Because I make it so often, I have figured out every time-saving and dirty dish-saving tactic in the book. I will share.
2 medium cuts of meat (chicken, pork or steak)
2 bell peppers
1/2 red onion
2 cloves garlic
handful of cilantro, chopped
3 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
cayenne pepper, to taste
salt, to taste
toppings as desired (guacamole, sour cream, cheese, salsa, etc)
Slice bell peppers vertically, about 1/2 inch thick. Still have the produce bag? Move on top of that until cooking time. Slice onion in 1/4 inch rings, then cut in half. Put a little olive oil in a saute pan, then toss in onions (don't turn stove on yet, you're just setting them aside). Chop cilantro and set aside with peppers. Chop garlic (if you don't have a press) and set aside. Slice meat in long, thin pieces. Turn heat of stove on high and stir onions until a little juice is let out. Add in meat, salt, lime juice and 2/3 of the spices (be sure to grab the cumin and not curry powder...been there, done that) and saute until meat is cooked.
Push meat to the sides of the pan in a circle and add the bell peppers and additional salt and spices. Mix together, stirring meat on top of the peppers.
Turn to medium heat and cover for 2-4 minutes or until peppers begin to soften.
To steam tortillas, place on top of the fajita mixture while on low. Salud!
*Recipe is 2-4 servings depending on size of peppers and meat. If you're cooking for a group, each person will likely eat about 3/4-1 piece of meat and 3/4-1 pepper each.