Steak Fajitas: How to Make them Hot at Home

Steak Fajitas: How to Make them Hot at Home

I love Tex-Mex and often get creative with its flavors and ingredients. I make all kinds of nachos, chili, and casseroles at home, but I don’t remember ever handling fajitas. I think I turned away from this dish because of the theatricality of serving it in restaurants.

Get the recipe: Steak fajita

In the spring, my colleague Emily Hale wrote about the “artificial fizz” scandal: “Last month, people on TikTok reacted with disbelief and disbelief to videos that took diners into the heart of tortilla-wrapped darkness: It turns out some restaurants are promoting the effects Special – that distinctive steam and sizzle – by squirting drops of water or oil onto hot cast iron dishes before displaying them in the dining room.

All theater requires some artifice, so I was fine with a splash of water or oil, and I didn’t feel any anger – just a desire to eat fajitas. Instead of getting a group of friends together and going out, I decided to make it at home for friends, but I wanted that sizzle. While browsing through cookbooks and websites, including Recipe Finder, I discovered that the recipes were very simple and similar.

You can make vegetarian fajitas, or make them with chicken or shrimp, but I chose traditional beef. The word “fajita” comes from the Spanish word for “belt,” which refers to the skirt steak traditionally used in the dish. Sirloin, which is thicker and wider, is easier to find in stores, so I used that here. Both pieces work for the plate.

I made a delicious batch, but without the sizzle, it felt sloppy. I was determined to see if I could carry a skillet of steak fajitas to the dinner table, complete with a trail of steam, without cheating.

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Were you successful? Yes and no. The fajitas were delicious – what’s not to like? – With marinated and seared beef, peppers and onions with lots of toppings on a warm tortilla. Although I’ve never served the crowd-pleasing white jet that restaurants do, I was able, with precise timing, to put that pan on the table while it was still audibly sizzling and emitting delicate wisps of steam.

First, I seasoned the meat. While the flavor was soaking up, I sliced ​​up the vegetables and cooked them in a hot skillet. I transferred them to a bowl and covered them to keep them warm while I shredded the cheese (yes, I love cheese on my fajitas, so sue me) and placed the cream, fresh salsa, and pickled jalapeños into serving bowls. Next, I sliced ​​the avocado, washed a handful of cilantro sprigs, sliced ​​the lime and added it to my table. Finally, I wrapped the tortillas in a towel and heated them in the microwave before adding them to the table.

If you’re going to put on a show with a frying pan, you need a feast, right?

And in the middle of it all, I placed a stand for my hot pan. I prepared the cornflakes and asked people to gather at the table and enjoy some while I returned to the stove.

There, I reheated the pan to near smoking hot and seared it and cooked the steak to a degree less than I liked. I pushed it to one side of the pan, added the vegetables to half the pan, and stirred a few times until they were nice and hot. Once everything was to my liking, I lifted the pan and carried it straight to the table.

Heads turned as the hot cast iron was lifted to its place of honor, providing a delicious aroma driven by that muted, but still telltale, sizzle and steam.

Before I knew it, hands were extending the tortillas and filling them with meat and vegetables, toppings were being placed on them, and everyone was eating, talking, and enjoying themselves.

Get the recipe: Steak fajita


An earlier version of this recipe incorrectly identified the cut of meat traditionally used in fajitas. It’s skirt steak. Skirt and flank steaks can be used interchangeably in this recipe.

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