Chicken fajitas are festive for Memorial Day dinner

Diane Rossen Worthington Originally Published May 16, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated May 15, 2013 at 10:13 a.m.
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Chicken Fajitas With Avocado-Corn Salsa

Memorial Day weather can be unpredictable at best. While many of us think of this as the day we break out our outdoor barbecues for the season, I can attest to a few holidays when cooking indoors was preferable. Just to be on the safe side this year, think about making a Mexican-style menu from the comfort of your kitchen.

Fajitas were all the rage a few decades back when Tex-Mex cooking burst onto the culinary scene. Fajita translates to belt, and some say that using skirt steak with its unique string-like texture looks like a belt. The term fajita has come to mean grilled meat on a tortilla. Usually you will find a mixed grill of meat, onions and peppers served on a platter, with tortillas served alongside. While you can also find versions made with turkey, pork or shrimp, this recipe uses chicken tenders.

Chicken tenders have caught on across the nation for their multiple uses. Stir-frying chicken strips along with colorful vegetables and Mexican spices is a quick technique that produces a pretty filling for warm corn or flour tortillas. Make sure to use a high-sided skillet or wok to help cook the ingredients evenly.

This is a very flexible dish: You can serve it rolled in flour tortillas for a quick family dinner, or open-face on corn tortillas for a fun Southwestern-style party. For large groups, you can easily multiply this recipe and add a pot of black beans and some spicy cooked rice to round out the menu. Small bowls of this colorful salsa make a pretty presentation alongside the fajitas. To drink? You can’t go wrong with ice-cold Mexican beer or fruit margaritas.

Chicken Fajitas With Avocado-Corn Salsa and Warm Corn Tortillas

Serves 4 to 6

Salsa:

2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely diced

1/2 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen and defrosted)

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1 jalapeno chili, seeded and minced

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

Fajitas:

2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

1 pound chicken tenders, cut into 2- by 1/2-inch strips

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin slices

1 jalapeno chili, seeded and minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium tomato, peeled and diced

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Garnish:

1 cup sour cream

Warm corn or flour tortillas

Cilantro leaves

Directions:

Prepare the salsa: Combine the tomatoes, corn, cilantro, parsley, jalapeno, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. After 1 hour, drain the salsa and spoon it into a serving bowl. Right before serving, add the avocado and taste for seasoning.

In a large skillet with high sides, or a wok, over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil, swirling to coat the sides. When the oil is hot, add the chicken strips and toss every 15 to 20 seconds for 3 to 4 minutes or until the chicken is lightly brown and just cooked through. Remove to a side dish.

Add the remaining oil; then add the onion and toss for a minute. Add the red pepper and jalapeno chili, and toss every 15 to 20 seconds for about 4 to 6 minutes or until the onion is nicely softened. Add the garlic and tomatoes, and cook another minute. Add the lime juice, cumin, cilantro and reserved chicken strips, and bring to a boil for a minute. Add salt and pepper to taste; then transfer to a serving bowl.

Serve immediately with a basket of warm corn or flour tortillas and small bowls of the sour cream and salsa on the side.

Advance preparation: The salsa can be made up to 4 hours ahead, covered and refrigerated.

Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including Seriously Simple Holidays, and is also a James Beard award-winning radio-show host. Contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.

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