Best Cut Of Beef For Fajitas

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Wondering Which cut of beef is best for fajitas? I have eaten fajitas since I was a kid. Before we go into which is the best cut of beef for fajitas, we should talk about what a fajita is. A fajita is a Mexican dish that includes meat cooked on a griddle with vegetables and served in a tortilla.

3+ Types Of Steak That Are Best For Fajitas

One of the most common ways to serve steak in restaurants and at home is in steak fajitas. These scrumptious recipes are descended from Tex-Mex dishes from the 1930s.

Mexican vaqueros in Texas were paid in part with skirt steak strips that they cooked on the grill and served as fajitas.

The history of ajitas is one of the most fascinating in culinary history, and the best meats for the meal are heavily influenced by this past.

Skirt Steak

Skirt Steak

As previously indicated, skirt steak was asked for in the original fajita recipes. The usual answer to the question of what kind of steak goes best with fajitas is skirt steak.

Despite being pricey, skirt steak is one of the most flavorful and appetizing meat cuts. Unfortunately, the meat is not only a little difficult, but it also contains a lot of connective tissue, which makes it even tougher.

There are just two distinct varieties of skirt steak on each steer. These inner and outside skirt steaks come from the muscle in the steer’s chest or abdominal region, directly below its ribs. The outer skirt steak is made of diaphragm muscle.

That being said, that cut of beef usually ends up in a restaurant, hotel, or other type of commercial kitchen due to the attractiveness and suppleness of the outside skirt. The inside of the skirt steak is most likely what you will find if you find it in a grocery store or butcher shop.

Flank Steak

Flank Steak

Demand for skirt steak rose as word spread that fajitas were sizzling perfection on a platter. The New York Times’ cookery section claims that skirt steak used to be a less expensive beef option.

This isn’t the case anymore, though. The Times suggests substituting flank steak in its place.

First and first, you need to understand that flank steak is not actually steak. Yes, it is beef, but it is not flank steak because flank steak is often cut from the meaty back of the animal.

The flank steak may be an excellent option for you if you’re seeking for a lower fat meat for your fajitas because it is also a very lean cut of meat.

Hanger Steak

Hanger Steak

One of the most delectable yet underestimated pieces of beef, according to a number of expert chefs polled by the gourmet website Thrillist, is hanger steak.

The meat practically oozes with the flavor of beef. It has fantastic marbling, which gives it the fatty juiciness that some gourmets associate with more expensive cuts of beef.

Some of the chefs surveyed by Thrillist even go so far as to claim that the flavor rivals that of the ribeye steak while being less expensive. Its location, which hangs from the cow’s diaphragm, is how it got its name.

It qualifies for the list as one of the best steak varieties for fajitas since it grills beautifully and is more affordable for most home cooks.

What Type of Steak Is Best for Fajitas: Arracheras History

Without understanding the origins of fajitas, it might be challenging to choose the finest sorts of meat to use.

On the grills of Mexican vaqueros (cowboys) in Texas, fajitas first appeared.

The Austin Chronicle claims that these ranch workers were paid with pieces of skirt steak (arracheras), which at the time wasn’t the best meat to sell commercially.

Skirt steak tends to be on the rough side, so these ranch cooks started experimenting with various additives to make it more palatable.

They eventually found that marinating skirt steak first and grilling it rapidly made it taste fantastic and make it simpler to chew (in Mexico, this method is known as ranchera meat).

Over time, fajitas became well known for their taste, and the recipe was eventually discovered by a chef of German descent by the name of George Weidmann. In the early 1980s, Weidmann worked at the Austin Hyatt Regency.

He started serving “sizzling fajitas” at the Hyatt after realizing it could become a popular dish.

Weidmann’s influence is responsible for the addition of other kinds of meat to the classic fajita dish. His preferred cut was allegedly the sirloin.

Later, owners and chefs of other Mexican restaurants started including additional steak cuts and varieties of beef in their meals.

Some of them are made of beef, such as hanger or flank steak. According to Serious Eats, it is now feasible to obtain fajita recipes that incorporate various grillable proteins, such as chicken or pig.

Home cooks now have a lot of room to experiment with their favorite meats thanks to these modifications to the standard meats used in fajitas.

When it comes to coming up with recipes for fajitas to make at home, almost anything could be fair game.

What Do You Need For Steak Fajitas?

Fajitas were essentially tacos with skirt steak in the past. That is to say, they included steak, flour tortillas, and a variety of grilled vegetables.

In light of this, seek for the following kinds of ingredients to make a more conventional fajita:

  • Skirt steak (or meat of your choice)
  • Flour tortillas
  • Bell peppers
  • Onions
  • Pico de gallo
  • Grated cheese
  • Guacamole 

Fajita seasonings include:

  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Garlic and onion powders
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne pepper

Soy sauce or butter are two less common seasonings.

But it’s crucial to remember that the fajita recipe has changed to include numerous kinds of meat and even vegetarian variations.

As a result, selecting the best steak for fajitas depends on two things: tradition and personal preferences.

What Type of Steak Is Best for Fajitas FAQ

What does the word fajita mean in English?

According to Serious Eats, the name “fajitas” is a reasonably exact translation. The word “fajita” translates to “small bands” or “little skirts” in English. The name is derived from the location of the meat on the cow’s body.

Is top round steak good for fajitas?

The sizzling in the dish is one among the things that makes serving fajitas entertaining. Because of this, top round steak is not a particularly good choice for fajitas in their most basic form. Despite being quite tasty, this beef is, to put it bluntly, on the rough side, according to Bon Appetit.

With a cut of meat like this, slow cooking techniques, like roasting or simmering top round in stews, work well. These techniques for preparing it enhance its flavor and make it edible. In this situation, slow and steady wins the race.

Because of this, you should tenderize the steak a little before using it in fajitas. The intermediate stage that needs to be completed before your top round steak is transformed into mouthwatering fajitas is marinating or tenderizing.

Once you’ve done this, you’re prepared to grill your meat and put together your fajitas.

Are fajitas nutritious?

LiveStrong claims that they most certainly are! The majority of fajita recipes call for low-fat meats, a lot of fresh grilled vegetables, some avocados for healthy fats, and salsa.

Tofu is a fantastic meat substitute for individuals who want to entirely eliminate meat from their diet. The typical fajita recipe is generally quite adaptable and nutritious.

Why is it important to know the history of fajitas?

The best types of steak for fajitas can be chosen if you are aware of the history of the dish. However, there is more to it than that. There are several reasons why recipes change over time. Experimentation for the purpose of flavor is important, but it’s not the only factor. Recipes are created, then modified out of necessity

Skirt steak was traditionally used in fajitas since it is what was available to home cooks. Supply and demand began to operate after the meal gained popularity. Demand outstripped availability, forcing diners to experiment with non-steak meats including chicken, pork, and shrimp to make the dish.

Knowing the origins of fajitas motivates you to prepare them with skirt steak since you are aware of the benefits of doing so. On the other side, it frees you up to explore because you understand that the original recipe was developed based on the ingredients available at the time and not by following some strict guideline.

Such information teaches you how to be imaginative when faced with difficulties. Even if the challenge at hand is simply learning how to adjust your diet to your budget, you can discover how others have solved comparable problems in the past.

Steak Fajitas

It’s time to prepare sizzling hot steak fajitas, so grab your skillet! With the colorful assortment of cooked vegetables, I have a tasty marinade that goes well. This is a dish that the whole family will enjoy that is high in protein and good for you fiber.

You’ll feel like you’re eating at a Mexican restaurant when you make these simple beef fajitas. Fresh, vivid veggies are served with flavorful meat marinated in hot seasonings, creating a fiery combination of looks and noises. This supper is a joy to all the senses thanks to the strong flavors.

I marinade the steak in a mixture of cumin, garlic, soy sauce, jalapenos, salt, and pepper to enhance the flavor. Before searing, only a quick soak for 30 minutes has a discernible flavor impact. Bell peppers, zucchini, onions, and mushrooms are served with the soft meat in a crisp-tender combination. An effortless one-pan gourmet supper!

Steak selection

The beef cuts that become tender after being swiftly cooked are the ideal for fajitas. Good choices are skirt steak, flank steak, sirloin, flat iron, or hanger steak. Leaner cuts that yet have some marbling to add moisture and flavor.

Avoid cuts of beef like chuck and brisket that have a lot of connective tissue; otherwise, the meat will be difficult to chew. Depending on the steak’s size and the required internal temperature for doneness, adjust the searing time.

A quick and concentrated marinade

A marinade has various advantages, such as increasing the meat’s texture and moisture, yet some additives simply flavor the surface. I use salt and soy sauce to prepare a steak marinade that quickly infuses the meat with flavor. The salt in the components can get further into the muscle’s inside.

It introduces water-soluble flavor molecules like garlic and chili peppers to make each piece more flavorful while using osmosis to function as a brine for more savory overtones. I use olive oil to flavor the beef’s surface by assisting the fat-soluble tastes of cumin, black pepper, and lime zest.

How long to marinate the steak

Allow the meat to soak for at least 30 minutes and as long as 24 hours. However, I prefer to allow yourself some flexibility if you’re meal-prepping the day before. I find that the shorter time is all you need. Before cooking the meat, be careful to remove all of the garlic and jalapeño pepper pieces. Those aromatics will burn in the extremely hot pan. To ensure better browning in the pan, pat the beef dry using a paper towel to eliminate any extra moisture.

Crunchy colorful vegetables

A traditional addition to a sizzling fajita dish is bell peppers and onions. Because they offer contrasting bitter and sweet sensations, I choose green, red, and yellow. You can also stir in chili powder or minced jalapenos to increase the dish’s heat.

For added sweetness, the onions caramelize in the hot pan as they are sautéed. I add quartered brown mushrooms and sliced zucchini to give the vegetables more substance. The fungus improve the steak’s beefy flavor.

How to cook steak fajitas

Make sure that everything is prepared, measured, and ready to add before starting to cook this recipe. A large cast iron skillet should be heated to medium-high. Remove the leftover marinade from the steak, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, and then sear for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked to the desired doneness.

Before slicing the steak into thin strips, allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Cook the bell peppers, onions, zucchini, and mushrooms after adding extra olive oil to the pan. They should be crisp and delicate. Place the steak slices and saved marinade on top. Add chopped cilantro as a garnish.

Allow the beef to rest

Prior to slicing, the meat must rest for about 10 minutes. This enables leftover cooking to reach the center of the beef and aids in the proteins’ relaxation and re-distribution of moisture. Cut the steak into thin, 1/4-inch-thick pieces by cutting it against the grain.

To make a bias cut, I hold my knife at a 45-degree angle. So that the proteins are not piled on top of one another, this increases the surface area between the muscle fibers. The texture becomes more delicate when chewed.

What to serve this with

For a portable lunch, wrap the steak strips and vegetables in handmade flour or corn tortillas. Enjoy creating your own unique toppings, and serve your dish with homemade salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and lime wedges.

Add lime juice after cooking

I prefer to save aside 1/4 cup of the marinade, then transfer it to a small bowl and stir with lime juice that has just been squeezed. After cooking, this tart sauce will provide flavor to balance the richness of the meat. To prevent the steak from drying out and turning mushy, it is preferable to add very acidic seasonings afterward.

Steak Fajitas

It’s time to prepare sizzling hot steak fajitas, so grab your skillet! With the colorful assortment of cooked vegetables, I have a tasty marinade that goes well.

Prep Time45 mins

Cook Time20 mins

Total Time1 hr 5 mins

Servings8 servings

CourseEntree

CuisineMexican

Ingredients

Steak Marinade

  • ▢1 pound skirt steak, or flank steak, sirloin, flat iron, or hanger steak
  • ▢½ cup olive oil
  • ▢2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ▢1 tablespoon minced jalapeno, stem and seeds removed
  • ▢1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ▢1 teaspoon cumin
  • ▢1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ▢½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ▢1 teaspoon lime zest
  • ▢2 tablespoons lime juice

Steak Fajitas

  • ▢2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ▢1 ½ cups sliced white onion, ¼-inch thick
  • ▢1 ½ cup sliced zucchini, ¼-inch thick
  • ▢8 ounces brown mushrooms, rinsed, dried, and quartered
  • ▢3 cups sliced bell pepper, ¼-inch thick, red, green and yellow peppers
  • ▢½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ▢¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ▢¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • ▢8 tortillas, flour or corn, 6-inches in size

Instructions 

Steak Marinade

  • Steak can be placed in a big plastic bag or casserole dish.
  • Mix the olive oil, soy sauce, garlic, cumin, jalapenos, salt, pepper, and lime zest in a medium bowl.
  • 1/4 cup of the marinade is taken out and placed in a small basin. Add lime juice and stir; set aside.
  • The remaining marinade should be poured over the steak and turned several times to coat. 30 minutes of marinating, turning halfway through. For up to 24 hours, the meat can be marinated in the refrigerator.

Steak Fajitas

  • A large cast iron skillet should be heated to medium-high.
  • To the pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. To prevent burning, scrape off any extra garlic or jalapeno before shaking off the excess marinade from the steak and patting it dry with a paper towel. Add the steak to the heated pan with caution.
  • For two to three minutes, sear the steak without moving it, until the surface is browned. Depending on the thickness, turn the meat over and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 120 to 125°F (49 to 52°C) for medium-rare. This will take 2 to 4 minutes. Before slicing, transfer to a cutting board, cover with foil, and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • To the pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions and cook for one minute after the oil is heated. Stir in the zucchini and cook for one minute. Add the mushrooms and cook for one minute. For 2 minutes, add and sauté the bell peppers. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper to season. The vegetables have to be soft yet crunchy.
  • On a bias, cut the meat into thin, 1/4-inch-thick strips across the grain.
  • On top of the vegetables, place the beef slices. Pour the fajitas with the 1/4 cup of marinade that has been saved after whisking it. As desired, add salt and pepper to the dish.
  • Add chopped cilantro leaves as a garnish. Warm tortillas and the selected toppings should be served with the beef fajitas.

Equipment

  • Cast Iron Skillet

Notes

  • Serving Size: 1 tortilla plus steak fajitas filling. 
  • MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE AND WHOLE 30: Use gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce. For gluten-free use corn tortillas, or wrap in lettuce for Whole30.

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