As I’m sure is abundantly clear, I am not a vegetarian – my dad is a butcher and I would be disowned – but once I had to cook for vegetarians for a week. I made some crazy shit, some of which I’m sure was awful (though they, being the incredibly polite and courteous young women they are, ate all of it without complaining), but some of which was pretty good. These fajitas were one of the things I made that landed on the “pretty good” side of the scale. I’m going to give the recipe as I learned it and typically make it, which is with meat, but you can leave the steak out and change the recipe not a whit. (Zakie, thus begins the run of veggie-friendly recipes I promised you.)
The best thing about this recipe is that it takes, literally, twenty minutes including prep time. Twenty-five, tops. Twenty-five minutes from raw meat and veggies to deliciousness in your mouth. It’s recipes like this that make my boyfriend call me a food wizard, which is hilarious because I’m pretty sure my cat could make this if I left explicit enough instructions and she had thumbs. It is, seriously, the easiest thing I know how to make. It was taught to me by a dear friend from college who, if he is reading this, should know that it is a huge hit 100% of the time and I love it!
As given, this makes enough for two people with healthy appetites. Just up the recipe as needed for more people.
One package of thin-sliced steak (this will almost definitely be labeled “pepper steak”)
1 – 2 green bell peppers
1 red bell pepper
1 medium yellow onion
Kosher salt (seriously, just give up on table salt for cooking)’
Coarse ground pepper
(I know that most cooking types are wedded to fresh-ground, but I actually don’t like it that much. It has a very specific taste which I find tends to overwhelm dishes rather than adding to them. I like it in and on certain dishes, but in general, it’s a flavour I use sparingly.)
McCormick Peppercorn Medley Grinder
(Okay, now, this might seem uncomfortable if you’re a purist but trust me. It’s a combo of black, pink, white and green peppercorns, with coriander and allspice, both of which add an unexpected kick but do not make it taste like a baked good (the concern with allspice). It’s a really tasty little mix, and is especially amazing on fresh-popped popcorn. Which is where I first had it and is why my dad calls it popcorn pepper.)
Slice up all your peppers and onion real thin-like, but do not dice. We want strips, not chunks or bits. Do you know how to slice a green pepper? DON’T SAY YES UNLESS YOU’RE SURE. Once upon a time I used to ask my boyfriend to help me cook, and I said, “Do you know how to slice a green pepper?” He said, “Yes!” I looked over after a minute and he was … chunking it or something, I don’t know, he was slicing off random chunks and cutting random chunks out of that, with the stem still on and all the pith and seeds still inside. I don’t ask my boyfriend to help me cook anymore.
So this is how you slice a bell pepper. Cut it in half, right down the middle of the stem. Once it’s in half, you can basically pull off the stem and pull out the pith and seeds with your hands (slice a half circle around the top of the stem if necessary). Rinsing the inside under cold water does an excellent job of removing all the seeds. Then if you slice it into strips along the naturally occurring seams, you can slice each large strip easily.
So. Lesson ended. Chop your onion in half, then slice the halves, but do not cut again (we want long strips). Check how much steak you have. You want long thin strips; maybe slice what you’ve got in half. Maybe don’t. Your call.
Throw all the vegetables into a pot and pour olive oil over them, maybe two – three glugs/seconds’ worth. Enough to coat the vegetables and have some in the bottom of the pot. Add salt and all three peppers, going especially heavy on the cayenne. Turn the heat on medium-high and start cooking, stirring a whole lot so everything gets near the fire at one point or another. The veggies will start to cook down and take up less space. After a few minutes, add the beef. At this point, add more cayenne and maybe more salt. When the beef is done and the veggies are cooked down, you’re done. I don’t like crispy veggies in this preparation, and I like tough beef in … pretty much all preparations, I’m kind of a freak that way, so I throw my beef in early. If you like beef that is more tender, throw it in later.
While you were cooking down your veggies and beef, you were setting aside two tortillas per serving you expect each person to eat. You use two per because this stuff is really messy, and one mere tortilla cannot stand up to the beef-pepper-onion juices without collapsing. You are toasting each of those tortillas over an open burner on medium-high for a couple seconds each side (you want them to get warm and get some black marks, but not burn all over or catch fire). If you don’t have a gas stove, I’m sorry. I can’t help you. Warm them in the microwave or some shit, or you could move and cook these someplace with a real fucking stove! Do that. Move.
To serve, take two toasted tortillas and pile ’em on each other. Spread the inside tortilla very generously with sour cream. If you don’t like it, you won’t taste it; this is because if you made these fajitas right they are blisteringly spicy, and the sour cream cuts that slightly. It also blends with the oil in most delicious fashion. Then add your pepper/onion/steak filling, wrap it up and devour. These are messy as fuck. Enjoy them with a friend.