Fajitas are pure Tex-Mex food. They originated along the Rio Grande River on the Texas-Mexico border and were eaten by cattle wranglers. The skirt steak is the traditional cut used and was reserved primarily for the chief cowboy. Other cuts of beef can be substituted, such as flank steak or sirloin, but the skirt is by far the most tender, flavorful and authentic.
You'll find no cast iron griddle with the sizzling bell peppers and onions in this recipe. This was developed mainly by chain restaurants and is in no way a part of true Tex-Mex fajitas. You can add them if you wish. This recipe is authentic.
2 pounds beef skirt steak
1/2 onion, halved and sliced thin
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons powdered red chiles
3 pickled jalapenos, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons jalapeno pickling liquid *
1 tablespoon corn oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce (optional - if grilling on cast iron or under the broiler)
1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke (optional - if grilling on cast iron or under the broiler)
* This is the liquid used to pickle and flavor the jalapenos. It is basically white vinegar with added spices, and there is always ample liquid in the jar or can to use in this recipe, without leaving the remaining jalapenos dry.
Place half of the onions in the bottom of a nonreactive dish.
Mix the cumin, powdered red chiles, chopped jalapenos and garlic together in a small bowl, then rub on all sides of the meat. Put the skirt steak into the dish on top of the onions. Pour the lime juice and the jalapeno liquid over all areas to coat. Sprinkle the remaining onions on top of the meat. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight, turning once.
Preheat the grill or broiler until hot. Fajitas need to cook close to a very high heat source, in order to sear the outside but still leave the interior medium rare.
Mix together the oil and, if you are using them, the soy sauce and Liquid Smoke. Brush or spoon the oil mixture onto the meat surfaces. Grill or broil about 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until the outside is brown and slightly charred, and the inside is still slightly pink. Remove the meat to a cutting board. Let sit 5 minutes before slicing to rest.
Cut the meat into thin strips that can be easily rolled into tortillas.
Serve with warm, soft flour tortillas and fresh pico de gallo or salsa fresca.
NOTES: Only use the soy sauce and Liquid Smoke if you are cooking on the stovetop with cast iron or under the broiler. The soy sauce helps brown the steak, and the Liquid Smoke gives the fajitas that grilled flavor.
Be sure to use chile powder, not chili powder. Chili powder is a mixture of spices, and chile powder is pure ground chile.