Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Chicken and Vegetable Fajitas with Guacamole

I know that photograph above is not very well lit, not beautifully arranged and not at all artistic, but I have to admit that it is making my stomach rumble and my mouth water. These fajitas are messy, unattractive to eat and completely delicious, and I will be eternally grateful to one of my best friends who introduced me to them at university. 

As an American, fajitas are his favourite food bar none, and when we lived together we used to eat them in our flat on an almost weekly basis - complete with homemade guacamole as a matter of course. Ever since finding out how easy it is to smush up an avocado, I haven't bought guacamole since. (Plus, I'm spooked by wondering what they put in it to keep it so green, when proper avocado goes brown almost instantly. Kermit?).

At university we tended to use the Old El Paso kits, complete with heavily sweetened spice mix, and very delicious they were too. In grown up life I wanted something a bit healthier, a bit less full of additives, and this Jamie Oliver recipe (of course!) fits the bill. The smoked paprika is a genius touch, adding both heat and that addictive smoky flavour.

Jamie recommends using raw chicken but we tend to use this as a way to use up left over roast chicken, and it works really well. To keep the chicken juicy, we only add it near the end, instead marinating and cooking the vegetables for longer to make them sweet and soft with charred edges. The use of the griddle makes all the difference - a frying pan will encourage everything to steam, but the griddle really adds caramelised, smoky flavour. 

My cooking and eating partner in crime objects to the texture of warm tortillas so he insists on turning his into a quesadilla - stuffing the mix into a tortilla with loads of extra cheese, then griddling it to turn the outside crispy and hard and the inside gooey. Me? I like it wrapped up in a soft, warm tortilla, with guacamole splurging out at either end and cheese melting over the chicken and vegetables inside.

Either way, these are easy, quick and delicious. Justin, I will always be grateful to you for bringing fajitas into my life - even if my hips are not.

Chicken Fajitas
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
Serves 2 greedy people

- left over roast chicken strips
- 2 sliced peppers (any colours but red are the nicest)
- sliced onion (one big or two small)
- a teaspoonful of smoked paprika
- a pinch of cumin
- a pinch of chilli flakes
- olive oil 
- salt and pepper
- juice of a lemon or lime

As we were making this with cooked chicken, we started by marinating the veg with the spices, oil, salt and pepper and juice of half the lemon / lime for at least 5 minutes. Cook the whole lot on a griddle pan to get good charred edges, adding the chicken after 5 minutes to give it time to warm up and char slightly. 

Once it's all cooked, squeeze over the remaining lemon / lime juice and serve in warm tortillas with grated cheese, guacamole (below) and, if you fancy, sour cream and salsa.


- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 spring onion, finely chopped
- squeeze of lemon or lime
- salt
- handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped

Simply mash the avocado with a fork then stir in everything else. Dollop onto your fajita, scoop out with a tortilla chip, or simply eat from the bowl with a spoon. Yes, avocadoes may be as unhealthy as "green butter" (to quote a colleague), but that's what makes them so mind-numbingly delicious.

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