Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Southwest Steak and Shrimp Fajitas

My wife and I are both from the southwest originally, so occasionally we need to take a little culinary trip back home for nostalgia purposes. Today I put together some steak and shrimp fajitas on homemade whole wheat tortillas for just that purpose.  I served it with some charred zucchini slices, pico de gallo, sour cream, and a Mexican beer for the full effect.  It was a good way to use up some leftover steak from last night too, without getting repetitive.

I intended to do these on the grill, but I have no idea where my grill basket landed after the move.  This version is almost as good though -- you just need a nice big cast iron or other heavy skillet to do a good job searing the ingredients.  If you do have a grill and grill basket handy, I'd recommend doing it that way for a little extra flavor and less cleanup.

The only ingredient below that I've had a hard time getting organic or wild is the beer -- I'll be brewing my own soon though!

Southwest Steak and Shrimp Fajitas (serves 6-8):

For the filling:
  1. 20-25 large wild caught shrimp, peeled and tails off
  2. ~3/4 lb grilled steak (leftovers are perfect)
  3. 1 ea. red and green bell peppers
  4. 1 medium white onion
  5. 1/2 medium zucchini
  6. other veggies, like tomatoes, according to season and preference
  7. 3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  8. sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
For the marinade:
  1. 4 oz Mexican beer (water will work, but is slightly less rich in flavor)
  2. Juice of 2 limes
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 2 Tbsp olive oil
  5. 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped, stems included
  6. 1 tsp sea salt
  7. 4 medium jalapenos, quartered, seeds included
Mix all the marinade ingredients together and dump the shrimp in.  The longer they sit the better, up to several hours.  Tonight, mine only got to hang out in the juices for about 30 minutes, so that works too.

While the shrimp marinate, chop the remaining vegetables like you see in the picture (this is why I like a large cutting board -- no little dishes to clean).  Most of it (with the exception of the garlic and zucchini) is cut to about 1/4" thickness.

    Put the onions in a hot skillet in a flat layer with some fat or oil and allow them to get darkly browned or blackened on the downward side before stirring.  When they are blackened, add the rest of the veggies along with about 3/4 cup of the marinade from the shrimp, keeping the heat on high and stirring occasionally:

    While that's going, make your tortillas:

    Whole Wheat Tortillas (makes 10-12 fajita-sized tortillas, less for burrito-size):
    1. 2 C. organic whole wheat flour
    2. 4-5 Tbsp lard from hogs allowed to forage or other semi-solid fat.  You can use oil in a pinch.
    3. 1 tsp sea salt
    4. 3/4 C water
    5. 1/4 tsp baking powder (optional -- if you like fluffy tortillas.  I don't use it).
    Use your hands to mix the fat into the flour. You should be able to squeeze it into a ball that holds its shape, but crumbles when you poke it with a finger.  Add the salt and most of the water, and work into a light dough.  Add the remaining water and possibly more water as needed to get it to a pretty soft feeling dough.  This is not a finicky recipe, so don't worry about getting it exactly right.

    When the dough is where you want it, let it rest for 5-10 minutes, then make the tortillas.  This is done by pinching off a small ball of dough, rolling it in flour, then rolling it flat with a rolling pin.  The tortillas at this point should be very thin, about 1/16":

    While you roll out the tortillas, heat your comal (cast iron griddle) to very high heat.  Do not add oil or any other liquid -- it will smoke and make them taste bad.  When the comal is hot, flop a tortilla on it.  Wait until it bubbles:

    Count a few more seconds (20-30) and flip it. It should look like this:

    Press the bubbles flat to make better pan contact, then remove from heat after about a minute (or less, depending on your heat level -- don't let it dry out).  Now the most important part of the process: cooling.  If your tortillas cool in the open air, they will dry out and become crackers.  I like to let mine cool on a plate under a tight-fitting lid to retain the moisture:

    As you cook your tortillas, you can finish the fajita filling.  Take the veggies out of the pan when they are done and put them in a table-ready bowl.  Put the shrimp and jalapenos into the pan in a flat layer and sear them well, then add about 1/2 cup of the marinade and let it reduce to coat.  Take out the shrimp the instant they are cooked through (they get tough fast otherwise), add to the veggies, and repeat the process with the steak.  Don't cook this too long -- the main object with the steak is just to get it hot.

    Now that your pan is empty, put in the zucchini in a flat layer and sear well on both sides, until you have nice black and tan patches like you see below.  Add the remaining marinade and let it boil away.  While this is happening, make your pico de gallo:

    Pico de Gallo (fresh salsa):
    1. 1 C. diced tomato (canned works in the winter)
    2. 2 diced jalapenos
    3. 1/2 medium white onion, diced
    4. 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
    5. juice of 1/2 lime
    6. 1 avocado, cubed
    Mix everything together and let it rest a while to blend the flavors:

    Now for the final step:  Enjoy!  Scoop some fajita filling into a tortilla, top with pico de gallo and sour cream, squeeze a lime over the whole works, and prepare to make a mess, because these are some juicy fajitas.

    * We used this post to participate in Real Food Wednesdays over at Kelly the Kitchen Kop *


    1. WOW....this looks fab and you even made your own tortillas! Thanks for sharing...will be making this minus the homemade tortillas.