A little taster of what's cooking...
Exciting times at Hare’s House – we have a huge box of dried Mexican chillies to play with! We’ve been selflessly trying out recipes for Fajitas for a couple of months now (it’s a tough job sometimes) and now we’ve all decided that they’re ready to fly the nest.
If you like fajitas (who doesn’t?), your only option at the supermarket seems to be to buy a packet of hydrolised stuff with maltodextrin and ‘flavour’ and sprinkle it all over some chicken. Hardly traditionally Mexican, is it? Authentic Tex Mex food doesn’t involve sprinkling anything other than spices and herbs. I wanted to bring a kit to you that lets you experience some of the drama of proper Mexican cooking.
Our new Mexican kits feature Tex Mex Chilli or Fajita. Both take a little more work than opening a packet and sprinkling, but both are authentic and much, much tastier! You will need 3-4 chicken breasts/steaks of beef or pork or vege equivalent such as 2 packs of paneer/Quorn/vegetables, 1 tblsp white vinegar (cider, white wine, rice wine, distilled), salt and sugar to taste.
This is what’s in your Fajita kit
First of all, dried chillies can be a little dusty so it’s good to give them a wipe with a piece of damp kitchen roll and straighten out the ancho as much as possible. Heat a dry frying pan/griddle/tava until hot and then put the dried chillies, fresh chilli and the whole, unpeeled garlic cloves that are in the kit, onto the pan. Press the dried chillies down onto the hot pan with a spatula, you may hear it crackle as the oils in the chilli are forced out.
Turn the chillies over and do the same with the other side. You aren’t looking to cook the chilli, just briefly toast it. It will turn a lighter tan colour and shouldn’t take much more than a minute before it’s done. Don’t let them burn!
Toasted ancho chilli, just starting to blister and turning a lighter shade of tan.
Take the chillies out and leave them to one side to cool. Continue cooking the fresh chilli and garlic cloves until they are covered in black spots and well charred and soft. Put to one side to cool and then slip the skin off the soft garlic and remove any loose skin from the chilli.
With a pair of scissors, cut the stems off the top of the chillies (taking care not to take too much of the chilli with the stalk) and then cut down one side of the chillies to reveal the seeds inside. Empty the seeds out and take out the inner membrane if you want to reduce the heat in the final dish.
Cut both of the dried chillies into 2cm (ish!) squares and put into a small saucepan. Cover with boiling water and bring to the boil. Take off the heat, cover and leave for 15 minutes to soak and rehydrate.
After 15 minutes, drain the chillies into a sieve and rinse with fresh water. Put into a mini chopper or similar along with the toasted garlic, 1 tblsp cider vinegar (any clear vinegar will do – rice wine, white whine, distilled or even lime juice), 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar and the Mexican herb/spice pack. Process until smooth, adding a tiny splash of water if necessary. Taste. It should be a little too salty and hot (it’s got a lot of meat to flavour), the vinegar flavour will disappear when cooked. If it’s not hot enough, add some/all of the toasted red chilli to taste and process again until smooth. Taste again and add more salt/sugar if you think it’s necessary.
You can bake/grill/fry your fajita. If you’re going to bake/grill, leave the chicken/steak whole. If you’re going to fry, cut the chicken/steak into strips. Either way, put into a large plastic zip lock/tie handle bag along with the chilli paste.
Through the bag, massage the paste into the meat until thoroughly coated. Tie or zip lock the top of the bag and leave in the fridge for as long as possible – preferably overnight, but for at least 20 minutes.
Grill/bake/fry as per instructions (if grilled or baked, slice the chicken/steak into strips before serving) and serve with whatever you like to eat with your fajitas: sour cream, pickled chillies, peppers and onions, grated cheese, guacamole (see my blog entry for Stef’s guacamole recipe), salsa (see my blog entry for a traditional toasted salsa) and soft flour tortilla.
Seriously. What’s not to like?!