Anyone who has ever eaten in a Mexican restaurant is familiar with fajitas. They are a platter full of sizzling meats with peppers and onions, served with warm tortillas and a are a staple in any Mexican restaurant, anywhere you go. They come in beef, chicken, shrimp or a combination thereof, as well as other meat and seafood combinations. This is the modern version of fajitas. The modern version is completely different than the traditional version. Traditionally, fajitas are only made with skirt steak. In Mexico, fajitas are known as arracheras.
Fajitas, or arracheras, are a true Tex-Mex creation, originating along the Rio Grande borders of Texas and Mexico, sometime between the 1930’s and the 1940’s. They are a blending of the Texas cowboy and the Mexican panchero foods. When the cowboys would process the steers for meet, they often gave the Mexican ranch workers meat as part of their wages. However, the cowboys often gave the least desirable parts of the cow to the ranch workers, which was the skirt part of the cow. With necessity often being the mother of invention, the workers and their families took these skirt steaks that were tough, and tried different methods of making them palatable, which eventually led to the creation of arracheras, or fajitas as they are now most commonly known. The word fajitas is derived from the word faja, which is the Spanish word for belt or girdle. A skirt steak is the the belt or girdle of the cow.
I grew up in Southern California and I grew up with great Mexican food as well, fajitas being among those wonderful foods. I make fajitas quite often, and yes, I make the modern versions, using all types of meats and seafood, rather than just the traditional version of only using skirt steak. Although I do make steak fajitas as well. Last night, it was shrimp fajitas, served with Cubano style black beans (frijoles negro) over rice, with some tortillas on the side. And of course, I had a margarita especial to make the meal complete.
I like using a lot of colors, and again, as you can see, a lot of vegetables too. Chicken, Sausage and Vegetable Alfredo I used red, yellow and orange bell peppers, an Anaheim, or hatch chili, and jalapeno pepper, red onion and mushrooms, along with fresh oregano, thyme, sage and cilantro, and of course garlic, cumin, and salt and pepper.
Cook all the vegetables first, until they are tender, then remove from the pan and set aside.
I cooked my shrimp in the same pan, along with my herbs and spices. I had some leftover pumpkin vinaigrette (optional) that I also added to the shrimp and herbs too, to add a little more zest to the dish.
Once the shrimp was cooked, I added the vegetables back to the pan and mixed everything together. It is now ready to eat.
I love black beans, and I especially love them Cubano style. Cubano style black beans, or frijoles negro, are cooked with cumin and lots of colorful vegetables. I used corn, red pepper, jalapeno, garlic and red onion in my mixture, as well as more sage, cilantro thyme and oregano.
Cook everything together until the vegetables are soft and tender, then add the beans. You can eat it as is, or serve it over rice. I served the frijoles negro over white rice.
La comida Latino es listo. Top with avocado slices and/or sour cream if you like, add a margarita or two, and dinner is served.
Because there are so many different versions of fajitas, I am not going to give an actual recipe, but it is basically a combination of peppers, onions, garlic, cumin, and the meat of your choice (or not if making it vegetarian) all cooked together. Traditionally it is served with rice and beans and warm tortillas. Desfruitas!