Fine Fajita Fiesta for 100
with Fajita Basics and Sample Menus
Read about the popularization of fajitas at the Kyle
The origins of fajitas, "rags"; beef is the word
Today, the term fajita has completely lost its original
meaning and has come to describe just about anything
that is cooked/grilled, tossed with grilled vegetables, and
served rolled up in a soft flour tortilla. The original true
fajitas, however, were made from marinated, grilled skirt
Fajitas are designed to be served as they are cooked,
and do not hold well. If you must hold, consider carne
guisada, or a taco bar.
Real authentic fajitas are made from marinated beef
skirt steaks, not chicken, round steak, etc. This is the
meat of choice for fajitas because its coarse or loose
texture allows it to absorb flavors and its bold beefy
taste holds up to bold seasonings. That is not what most
restaurants serve. If you can't get skirt steak, the beef
you select has to be tender enough to eat on its own,
such as tri-tip or top sirloin.
The Mexican term for grilled skirt steak is
arracheras, and its American counterpart is
fajitas. There are two skirt steaks on each cow. Outside
Skirt steak is a steak made from the diaphragm, very
flavorful, but also rather tough. Inside skirt steak is the
corresponding flap taken from the flank or bottom
sirloin There is a 3-pound inside skirt and a 1.5-pound
outside skirt steak on each cow. Both require some
skillful trimming to remove their membranes or silver
Amount to Buy? One trimmed inside skirt steak
will weigh about 1 pound and when grilled and sliced
correctly makes a terrific steak or fajitas for four happy
diners or three ecstatic party-goers.
The Modern Fajita
The current popular way of serving fajitas is similar to the traditional Mexican "taco al carbon", and is created
from a variety of meats, or even as a vegetarian entree from sliced grilled portabello mushrooms or grilled tofu.
For mixed meats for large party size servings, you plan on 5 ounces raw beef PLUS 3-4 ounces raw second meat (chicken, shrimp, etc) PER PERSON. For ordinary dinners, you need about 1/4 less.
For results like the popular restaurants, you MUST marinate the meats (except shrimps) at least 4 hours, up
to overnight. Shrimps are marinated just 2-4 hours depending on size. This marinade contains lime, not
lemon, juice and is DISCARDED when the meat is cooked. Also, you MUST sauce the grilled veggies
separately and then add that sauce to the dish as a finishing sauce. This was not original, as the vegetables
were simply grilled and mixed with the freshly sliced meat and juice, but it is how most commercial places do
"Tex-mex style" fajitas are usually served on flour
tortillas with sour cream, guacamole, cheese, and pico de
gallo or salsa. "Mexican style" is a bit more traditional,
on corn tortillas with pico de gallo and chopped cilantro.
I usually offer both on a fajita buffet. Rice and beans are the traditional accompaniments.
The best way to cook the meat is to grill the pieces, then
thin slice them. Second choice is to broil and slice. It
just is not the same if you pre-slice and cook like a stir
fry, but I have included notes on this method, if you
- Marinating is discussed below. At a minimum, olive
oil, Fiesta Fajita Seasoning, and a few splashes of
Worcestershire sauce are rubbed into the beef. Coat the
meat in the mixture and let sit for 30 minutes or so.
- If you have a smoker on your grill, smoke for about
10 minutes before grilling
- This is a traditional method of preparation for
When the coals are ready, drain the
marinade from the meat and cook it about 3 inches
above the coals for approximately 3-6 minutes on each
side, for skirt steaks between 1 and 1 1/2 pounds.
When the meat is cooked to your liking, remove it
from the grill and let it rest for 5 or 10 minutes. Cut it
across the grain and diagonally into finger-length
Cold and wet weather, or very large parties, can
make outdoor grilling impractical. You can prepare
them under your broiler.
- Trim fat from steak, and score a diamond pattern on
both sides of steak.
Trim off all of the silver skin and excessive fat. Do
not take off all of the fat, fat has flavor. Mix well, then
pour into the bag with the meat. Press out as much air
from the bag as possible and zip the top closed.
Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours (or overnight), turning
occasionally to coat all sides.
- Preheat the broiler and pan.
- Broil the meat about 4 inches below the broiler
flame for 5 to 6 minutes per side; then let the meat rest
and slice as for grilled fajitas.
For either method, if marinated, drain and pat meat
Never omit this step: wrap the grilled meat in a
double thickness of aluminum foil and allow it to rest
for 15 minutes. THIS REST IS IMPORTANT FOR
BOTH FLAVOR AND TENDERNESS!!! Be warned:
Skirt steak toughens if cooked to more than medium.
Thinly slice across the grain and diagonally and
Pan frying (ouch)
If you must,
- Drain the meat; then cut it across the grain,
diagonally, into finger-length strips.
- Fry the strips over high heat in a large preheated
cast-iron skillet or wok, working in batches if necessary,
turning them frequently. They should take no more than
1 1/2 to 2 minutes to cook.
Amounts per person and for 100
Two fajitas is the usual estimate per person if you have
the usual sides of rice, beans, and salad. For a two fajita
serving for 4 people, you need:
Meats 1 pound of lean boneless raw meat
per 4 persons. For shrimp for 4, you need 1 1/4 pound
head off, shelled.
Vegetables Equal weight of vegetables as
meat: 1/3 onion, 1/3 green peppers, 1/3 red/ orange/
Marinade and finishing sauce, recipes
Additional items needed to serve 4:
tortillas- 4 per person, 2 as wraps and 2 as
bread. Flour is traditional, but I include corn as well as
Lettuce wrap: nowadays, you can
also offer whole romaine or large iceberg lettuce leaves,
as carb-conscious folks will make lettuce wraps.
grated cheese- 1/4 cup=1 ounce, per
For 100, 2 tbsp=3 lb 2 oz= 3 1/4 quarts minimum; I would double
guacamole- 1/4 cup per person
pico de gallo/ salsa- 4 tablespoons per person is 7 pounds or 6 1/2 quarts for 100
tomatoes, diced fresh- 2-4 tablespoons per person; per 100 people, 4 tablespoons is 13 pounds
shredded lettuce- 1 to 2 ounces per person
sour cream- 2 tablespoons per person is 6 1/2 pounds or about 13 cups per 100
It is usual to serve with whole beans such as borracho beans and rice, 8 pounds of each dry per
Here is a pretty good recipe for the marinade:
Meat marinade for 1 pound fajita meat with
Finishing Sauce for Grilled Vegetables
1/4 cup lime juice
1/3 cup water or beer
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Liquid Smoke (DO NOT OMIT ,
especially if you are cooking inside!)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Combine lime juice, water, oil, garlic, soy sauce,
salt, Liquid Smoke, cayenne pepper, black pepper and
either the sirloin or the chicken (don't mix meats in the
bags!) in a container or zipper plastic bag, cover and
refrigerate at least four hours or overnight. Make sure all
surfaces of meat are covered.
Remove from marinade and discard marinade.
If desired, rub on steak rub or fajita seasoning. Grill
meat as described above. Cut meat into thin strips. Set
aside and keep warm- save juices
Finishing sauce and vegetables:
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
scant black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, sliced thin
1 green pepper, sliced thin strips after grilling or
1 red pepper, sliced thin strips after grilling or
1 yellow pepper, sliced thin strips after grilling or
Combine the 2 tablespoons water, soy sauce, lime
juice, salt, pepper and olive oil. Set aside.
Cook onion and peppers in oil until brown.
Remove from heat. Pour reserved finishing sauce
mixture over onions and peppers.
Combine meat, meat juices, onions and peppers.
Serve with tortillas, grated cheese, guacamole, tomatoes
and lettuce. Rice and whole beans are the traditional side
Yes, it does make a difference if you use lime juice
instead of lemon.
Fajitas are designed to be served as they are cooked,
and do not hold very well. If you must hold, consider
carne guisada, or a taco bar.
Shrimp fajita-style is another option and yes, you
DO marinate the shrimp, but only 2 to 4 hours.
Tex Mex Bridal
Buffet with Fajitas: Sample Menu
Chicken and Steak Fajitas-Tender Strips of Chicken
Breast and Skirt Steak Served with Sautéed Onions and
Other options could include one or two of the
- Carne Asada - marinated flank steak
- Chicken - cumin and citrus marinated breast
- Al Pastor (pork) - in a spicy anchiote marinade
- Lamb - Borrego - chile spice rub
- Shrimp or Rock Shrimp - marinated in lime
- White fish - grilled or fried with vinegar slaw and
poblan oor chimichurri sauce
- Vegetarian option - portabello mushroom and/or
firm tofu, marinated and grilled
Fajita toppings: Shredded Lettuce, Diced Tomato,
Cheddar Cheese, Sour Cream, Black Olives, Jalepeno
Peppers, Guacamole if not used as an appetizer, and
Corn and flour tortillas, optional whole romaine
leaves for lettuce wraps
Spanish Rice with Minced Vegetables and Spices
Refried Beans Topped with jack Cheese
Appetizers could include:
- fruit platters with lime and red chile
- Chunky Salsa with white and Blue Corn Tortilla
- Fresh Guacamole Dip with white and Blue Corn
- Mexican cheese platter
- Queso dip or variations
- Savory empanadas
Optional salads could include:
- Texas Caviar or Black Bean Salad
- Mixed green salad with a choice of ranch or
- Fruit platters if not used as appetizers
Specialty beverages might include agua fresca or
Desserts might include
- tres leches cake,
- sopapillas or bunuelos,
- Mexican wedding cookies
- sweet empanadas