It was when I studied my masters degree at the University of Warwick back in 1996-97 that I learnt this recipe which today I have decided to name "Really easy chicken fajitas a la Feisty Tapas". Now, say it with me: fah-hee-tass. Muy bien.
I was living on campus in a brand new hall of residence. Basically I had a "flat" with 7 other students, there was a kitchen, an adjoining dining room with a huge round table and a TV and I shared a bathroom with an Italian girl. There was also a direct phone line and direct Internet acess in every bedroom (back then, this was a luxury and it did happen through a cable!). We were all postgraduates and an assortment of ages and nationalities.
It was during that year that I met by chance the Mexican girl who occupied the exact same bedroom as the one I had in a straight downward vertical line: I was on the top floor, she was two floors down on the ground floor. The "chance" in question was an English lad, rugby player, who had a penchant for loud music. I met her while waiting outside the entrance during one of the fire alarms caused by some burnt toast (as always) that dragged us out to the freezing cold English winter. We soon discovered that not only did we have language in common but a common hatred for the English rugby player (let's call him Chance, shall we?). From then on whenever he did our head in, I would slam my feet on the floor and she would hit her ceiling with whatever she could find. He soon learnt not to mess with Spanish-speaking girls (I bet he would have added the word crazy to that description). We once managed to catch a glimpse of a drunken Chance going into the pond right outside our windows in the winter, with a trolley from the nearby Tesco. We didn't hear any noises for days, I guess pneumonia got the best of him.
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Those direct phones and the free calls to our respective university extensions came very handy.
Ah Chance, I reckon you either didn't go far in the world or you are a politician.
Now, as chance would have it, this girl and I became friends and she taught me how to make fajitas and what better way to learn but from a Mexican! I reckon I have modified it quite a bit over the years as I never wrote her recipe down but I helped her make it a few times.
This is a perfect fun meal to have with the family or friends. It's easy to double, triple or quadruple it as you wish to suit your herd / group of friends.
If you have a Thermomix or a blender, I have a shiny new version for you here.
- A deep oven dish / tray
- A frying pan, with a diameter large enough to hold a whole tortilla keeping it, preferably, flat
- A chopping board
- Napkins / serviettes
- 10 minutes.
Hands-free time to do what you fancy:
- 40 minutes.
- Not that bad: one chopping board, one oven dish and one not very messy frying pan.
This feeds 2 adults in our household, it may feed 2 adults and 2 children in yours. We can be a bit greedy
- 370 g mini chicken fillets (this is to make it even speedier, if you have more time, go for chicken breast or, to keep it economical, chicken thigh fillets).
- 1 tsp from a jar of Waitrose Easy on the Crushed Chilli jar (or 1 red chilli, chopped)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon (a whole one if you fancy it very lemony)
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 red pepper, sliced (or whichever colour pepper you prefer)
- 1 packet of tortillas
- 1 tub of soured cream
- 1 tub of guacamole
- Grated cheese, optional (we use cheddar most of the time)
- Olive oil (about 1 tablespoon)
1. Preheat the oven to 200º (fan) / Gas mark 7.
2. Drizzle some olive oil over the bottom of the oven tray with a small squeeze of the lemon, add the chicken fillets, followed by the chilli and the juice of the half lemon, as well as some salt and pepper, and either get your hands dirty mixing it all well (just remember to wash them VERY thoroughly and not only because of the raw meat) or mix well with a couple of wooden spoons or similar. Make sure it's all well coated.
3. Add the sliced onion and pepper and give it a good stir or mix well with the hands so that it's again all coated.
4. Insert in the middle of the preheated oven for 30 minutes. At the end of that time, give it a good stir and return to the oven turning the heat up to about 220º (fan) / to give it that sizzling slightly-burnt-without-tasting-burnt look. Make sure that the chicken is cooked through, if necesary cut one of the bigger fillets through the middle to make sure (I do!).
5. Heat the frying pan over a medium heat and add 2 tortillas at a time, they only need about 30 seconds on each side, turn and remove to a plate. If you have a lid, cover them with that as you place them on a plate, otherwise cover them with another plate. However, the best is to get a bit Spanish on this, call everyone to the table and tell them to get started so that you can then sit down to eat in peace.
6. To serve, let each person help themselves. Spread a tortilla on your plate and fill with a bit of chicken and vegetables, dot with guacamole and soured cream, sprinkle with cheese, wrap around both sides and then fold the bottom so that the whole filling doesn't drop to your plate when you pick it up. Enjoy. Repeat. Have napkins handy.
Serve with Spanish flair! I may have forbidden you from wearing sombreros in the past but for this one you can, they are Mexican. Only for this one mind!
Tip: If you want a more hands-on and even faster version, instead of putting the chicken+vegetables mixture in the oven fry it in a large pan or wok, over a medium-high heat and then a high heat (try not to burn them).
Very important hint: Adapt these timings to your oven, every heating device is different.