Thursday, January 10, 2013

Restaurant-Style Chicken Fajitas

Who doesn't love a good chicken fajita? There isn't much that someone can't like about fajitas - yummy vegetables, strips of chicken, and crunchy toppings all wrapped in a warm tortilla. Sooo good! I never really thought that chicken fajitas could be improved too much, but I have seen many chicken fajita postings on food blogs lately. The other day I came across a really good looking recipe in the Cook's Illustrated cookbook. I made the fajitas & they were the greatest fajitas ever!

I have been cooking more and more healthy meals during the last couple weeks. The first week that I started the healthy cooking, I made immunity soup, sweet potato-poblano soup,  tofu curry, and these chicken fajitas. Out of all the meals, I would say that these chicken fajitas were the least healthy. And out of all the meals, Greg liked the chicken fajitas the best. I think I liked the tofu curry best, but I also really love tofu and curry (Greg doesn't). The chicken fajitas are not unhealthy, but they aren't less than 200 calories per serving like many of the other meals that I had made! If you use healthier cooking oils and whole wheat or sprouted grain tortillas, then they are pretty darn healthy. Greg said the fajitas tasted like ones that you would get at a nice Mexican restaurant. The chicken is seasoned perfectly (smoked paprika is the BEST) and the veggies have a fabulous flavor and texture. The spicy pickled radishes also add a really nice touch. Enjoy!

Recipe for Restaurant-Style Chicken Fajitas

For the chicken
3 Tbsp. of canola oil, divided (2 for marinating, 1 for cooking)
1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 tsp. of smoked paprika
1 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. of ground cumin
1/2 tsp. of black pepper
1/4 tsp. of cayenne pepper
16 ounces of 1/2-inch thick boneless/skinless chicken breast

For the vegetables
3 large poblano chile peppers, stemmed, halved & seeded
1 Tbsp. of canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, halved & sliced into 1/4-inch strips
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. of dried thyme
1/4 tsp. of dried oregano
1/3 cup of cream or heavy cream
1 Tbsp. of freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 tsp. of salt
1/4 tsp. of black pepper

Pickled Radishes
For assembling
8 medium-sized soft tortillas (whole wheat, sprouted grain, flour)
Sweet & Spicy Pickled Radishes 

For marinating the chicken
In a large container, mix together 2 Tbsp. of canola oil, lime juice, paprika, salt, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Add in the chicken breasts and toss well to coat on both sides of the chicken. Cover the container with a lid and let it stand at room temperature for at least 45 minutes, but no longer than an hour.

For the vegetables
While the chicken is marinating, adjust your oven racks. Put a rack in the highest position in the oven and then preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with foil. Place the poblano peppers skin side up on the foil and press them down to flatten. Place the baking sheet in the oven on the top rack. Cook peppers until their skin is puffed & slightly blackened, about 7 - 10 minutes. Make sure to rotate the baking sheet halfway through while they are cooking. Remove peppers from the oven and lower oven temperature to 200 degrees.  Transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover them with foil. Allow them to rest for about 10 minutes; then slice the peppers into 1/4-inch strips.

Once oven temperature has lowered to 200 degrees adjust the racks. Put one rack in a middle position and one rack on the lowest position.

Heat the 1 Tbsp. of canola oil in a medium sized nonstick skillet set over high heat. When oil begins to smoke, add onion and cook until a bit blackened and softened, about three minutes. Add garlic, thyme, and oregano and mix. Cook for 30 seconds. Add the cream and cook, stirring frequently, until cream reduces and it coats the onions (about 1 minute). Remove the skillet from heat and add poblano pepper strips, lime juice, salt, and black pepper. Toss well to coat. Transfer the vegetables to a baking dish and cover. Place the vegetables on the middle oven rack.

For cooking the chicken
In a large oven-safe skillet, heat the 1 Tbsp. of canola oil over high heat until it begins to smoke. Add chicken breasts and cook, undisturbed, for 4 minutes. Flip the chicken and remove from heat. Carefully transfer the skillet to the lowest oven rack. Cook the chicken until it registers 165 degrees on a meat thermometer, about 10 minutes. Once chicken is done, remove skillet from oven. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and allow it to cool for a few minutes. Once the chicken has slightly cooled, cut it in half and then into 1/4-inch thick strips. Return the chicken to the skillet and coat it with the oils. Place the skillet over very low heat for about a minute while you take out the vegetables from the oven and warm the tortillas.

For assembling
Warm the tortillas in the microwave by zapping them for about 15 seconds. Spoon 1 - 2 ounces of chicken into the center of each tortilla and top with the vegetables and radishes.

Nutritional Information:
Each chicken fajita is about 225 - 350 calories, depending on amount of chicken and the type of tortilla used.

Recipe Adapted from: Cook's Illustrated