When we lived in Texas, our favorite restaurant BY FAR was Lupe Tortilla’s. It’s a fun family-friendly restaurant with good margaritas and great Tex-Mex food. Signs outside tell customers to expect a wait – if you are in a hurry you are encouraged to come back another time. The wait was always worth it, though, and each location has a children’s play area with sand and toys…conveniently located next to the outdoor bar.
Houston locals know not to bother with a menu. The regular food is good, but if you know the ropes, you order fajitas grandioso for two without bothering to look at the menu. (Heck, I even ordered them once when I dined alone, while traveling back to deal with bad renters in the house we still had there.) Honestly, these are the best fajitas you will ever eat. You can get chicken and/or beef in the restaurant, but beef is my favorite.
- This is skirt steak. No, you may not substitute flank steak. They are not the same!
So God Bless Texas, and “Scott”, who posted the fajitas grandioso recipe over at Tastebook. I’ve made it several times now and I have to say, it’s REALLY close. I think the only reason it’s not the same is that my cast iron skillet isn’t very seasoned yet. Take note: cooking these fajitas on cast iron is a MUST. Any other cookware simply.will.not.do.
- This is a good example of too much meat for the marinade. The marinade should mostly cover the meat.
The first step is the marinade. Scott’s recipe calls for marinade for 2 pounds of skirt steak; IMO this is enough for only about 1.5 pounds. You need to have enough marinade for the meat to settled into; otherwise the steak won’t be tender enough. It’s the citric acid in the lime juice that breaks down the meat, tenderizing it in the process, so you want enough marinade for the steak to sit in. It’s not just about the flavor.
- Use real cast iron. The more seasoned the pot, the better the flavor.
After that, you want to grill the steak on medium-high heat. If the temperatures is too high, the outside of the meat will get tough before the inside is cooked. And if it’s too low, there won’t be enough searing on the outside to really develop the flavor. The other thing I do differently is to cook the meat for awhile, then slice it against the grain and return it to the skillet to finish cooking. I think the flavor develops better this way.
- My favorite way to eat fajitas – homemade flour tortillas, meat, green onions, sour cream, shredded Mexican cheese, and homemade salsa.
Recipe (adapted from Tastebook)
- 1.5 lbs skirt steaks
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil, plus
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoons tequila
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 bunch green onions
- 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from real limes)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
Make the marinade by combining the garlic, 1/3 c. vegetable oil, tequila, salt, lime juice, and cumin in a large glass or Pyrex bowl. Cut the steak into 5-6 inch sections, or whatever will fit in your skillet. Place steak in marinade and make sure the marinade covers the meat as thoroughly as possible. Marinade for a minimum of 2 hours; I usually let it sit in the marinade, in the refrigerator, overnight.
Heat your cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, place the skirt steak pieces on the skillet and cook until medium-rare, about 10 minutes on each side. The meat should start to develop a slight “crust” on the outside. Remove meat, slice against the grain into strips, and return to pan to finish cooking. At this point, add the green onions (full length or cut in half; not chopped) as well and let them cook in the grease from the meat, along with the remaining 2 TS vegetable oil.
(You can also cook onions and peppers in the grease; I don’t like these on my fajitas so I leave them out.)
Serve on warm flour tortillas with Mexican rice, salsa, cheese, sour cream, lettuce, diced tomatoes, etc.
- Funny shot – the top edge of the tortilla is blurry because it started unfolding while I was attempting to take the picture.