Kathy pitts' fajitas

Yield: 4 servings

Measure Ingredient
1½ pounds Beef skirt steak*
1 cup Beer
½ teaspoon Liquid smoke
2 \N Lime's juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Soy sauce (opt'l)
\N pinch Cumin
\N pinch Mexican oregano
\N \N Pepper; black or lemon
\N \N Garlic powder

This Tex-Mex favorite was around LONG before the yuppiefood industry snagged it, and turned it into a cliche. This is our version of the dish, which is (I think) pretty close to the original. Our marinade for this changes from time to time, depending on the mood of the cook, the contents of the pantry, and perhaps the phases of the moon, so feel free to fuss with it.

Skirt steak is the diaphragm of the beef, a long very stringy cut of meat that accounts for the name of the dish (trans. "sashes"). It used to be dirt cheap, and was poor folks fare until the food faddists discovered it.

(Depending on where you live, this cut may either be easily found at your market, or require a special order with the butcher. In a pinch, you could substitute flank steak, just don't tell me about it :-) ) To be tender, the meat demands VERY careful handling. Arm yourself with a small, sharp knife, and obsessively trim off ALL the fat, and as much of the silvery membrane surrounding the exterior of the meat as you can manage. This can take a while, but be persistant.

The more you trim, the better the finished product.

Place the meat in a deep non-metallic pan, and cover with a mixture of the remaining ingredients. Marinate the meat, turning occasionally for at least 2 hours (overnight is better). When the exterior of the meat is grey, it's ready to cook.

The soy is NOT authentic, but since Ninfa's, the Tex-Mex restaurant chain that originally popularized the dish uses it in THEIR marinade, I sometimes do, too. It gives the finished dish a nice shiny glaze.

To cook, fish the meat out of the marinade, and dry well. Season the exterior with a liberal quantity of cracked black pepper (lemon pepper is good, too), and garlic powder (not salt).

Grill over a medium-hot charcoal fire (best), or broil or grill indoors. Either way, be VERY careful not to overcook the meat. If you cook skirt steak beyond medium rare, it will be the toughest cut of meat imaginable. Since the steak itself is quite thin, cooking time will be brief. To serve, cut into thin, slanting slices, carving against the grain of the meat.

The Accompaniments

Fajitas are generally accompanied by sauteed or grilled onions and sweet green peppers (you can saute the onions and peppers well in advance, and re-heat on the grill if you are doing the dish outdoors).

Also served is Pico de Gallo, a fresh tomato based salsa.

You will also need a stack of the best flour tortillas you can find.

Some refried beans on the side would be nice, too.

Other possible accompaniments include guacamole or sliced avocados, lime wedges to squeeze over everything, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream.

To eat, take a few slices of meat, and lay on a tortilla. Top with the sauteed onions and peppers, pico de gallo, and whatever else suits you.

Fold into a soft taco, and enjoy.

Kathy in Bryan, TX

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