My mother, although multi-talented, had an aversion to the kitchen and has often said that I learned to cook at an early age “out of self-defense.” When she made chicken à l'orange by smearing a chicken with powdered Tang, I quickly developed a necessary passion for creating tasty things to eat. Somewhere in the family photograph album is a picture of me at the stove, age ten, happily stirring marinara sauce.

I developed a lifelong fascination with food; good food. There was even a foray of working as a chef’s assistant at a French restaurant during my mid twenties, just for fun. I had always loved watching Julia Child and knew that Mastering the Art of French Cooking was to be revered. It wasn’t until I read her biography (long before the Julie & Julia movie) that I really became fascinated with her work. From that book, I decided to prepare her recipe for mayonnaise.

Upon tasting it, I wept. . . .

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Best Fajitas in the World

Okay, this isn't a Julia recipe but it is one that will always, without fail, impress your guests. Nay, it will knock their socks off.  It is a family recipe, namely, from my Uncle Nathan who is a rancher in South Texas. 

Aside from ranching, my uncle began catering rodeo events and developed this recipe for fajitas. I can't say enough good things about it, really. As a matter of fact, it is an award-winning recipe, for he did win first place in a fajita-cooking contest at the annual Stock Show and Rodeo in San Antonio a few years ago. 

The unique thing about this recipe is that it's sort of backwards. Normally, fajita meat is marinated and then grilled. This is grilled and then soaked in a hot marinade from which it is served. The meat stays super-juicy and much more flavorful that way. I've served this recipe for folks in New York, Toronto, Chicago and Seattle -- they've all raved about it. (The Canadians, less so, for they aren't really known to rave.) 

Here's the sauce for about a pound and a half of beef. I like to use flank steak. Just salt and pepper the steak, char-grill it over very high heat so that it's really charred on the outside and still rare-ish on the inside. Slice the grilled steak across the grain and plunk it in the sauce:

Secret Sauce:
2 teaspoons salt                             
1 teaspoon pepper                            
2 teaspoons mustard         
2 teaspoons chili powder    
1 Tablespoon Tabasco       
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup white vinegar
2 cups water
1/4 cup bacon drippings
Bring to boil; simmer 30 minutes.  Cool and refrigerate over night.  Warm before using on meat.

Place the sliced, cooked fajita meat in the marinade about 15-30 min before serving. Not much longer or the meat all falls apart. 

Frankly, I've never made it the day before as it suggests; just right before I grill the steak.  One thing I did learn is that this sauce does not freeze well at all. All the flavor seems to go away once it is frozen. So don't do that. 

Here is part of the fajita meal that I served in Seattle. 

Many thanks to my Uncle Nathan and Aunt Dixie for sharing this with me. It really is a winner. 

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