Since discovering how easy it is to cook amazing flank steak at home, I have become rather obsessed with fajitas. As in, we've had them for dinner at least once a week for the past several weeks — sometimes just the two of us, sometimes with friends. They're just so easy and easily adaptable! Roast some peppers and onions under the broiler, then cook the steak. Pile everything on a platter with a stack of warm tortillas nearby, and dig in. It's a happy and delicious free-for-all.
This particular version involves a chili-lime marinade, which I love. The spice and citrus add some zing while helping the flank steak stay tender. So good.
Flank steak is a fairly tough cut of meat, but it transforms into tender ribbons when you give it a marinade, cook it quickly under the broiler or on the grill, and then slice it very thinly across the grain. This used to be a less-expensive budget cut, but I've noticed it getting pricier in the last few years. Even so, when you compare it to premium steaks and also consider the cost of a similar meal when eating out, I've found that flank is still a great choice for casual dinner parties.
On that marinade, even a quick marinade does wonders, but if you can, whisk it together a few hours ahead and let it marinate in the fridge. If it's a weekday, you can get the steak marinating before you leave for work (or even the night before) and cook the steak as soon as you walk in the door.
A big shout-out here to those of you who have been brewing along with our Beer School! These fajitas make a mighty fine companion to that amber ale we've been working on. When your first bottles are ready to be sampled, I highly recommend inviting a few friends over for the event and celebrating with a fajita dinner. Cheers!
Chili-Lime Steak Fajitas
Serves 6 to 8
For the steak:
1 1/2 to 2 pounds flank steak
2 to 3 tablespoons lime juice from 2 limes
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane or finely minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, optional for some spicy heat
For the fajitas:
1 medium green bell pepper
1 medium red bell pepper
1 medium yellow bell pepper
1 medium yellow onion
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
15 to 20 small corn or flour tortillas
Extras for the table: guacamole or avocado slices, salsa, queso fresco or shredded monterey jack cheese, shredded lettuce, chopped cilantro, wedges of lime
Place the steak in a 9x13-inch baking dish or other shallow pan. Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, garlic, chili powder, and salt. Pour this over the steak and turn a few times so it's evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
When ready to cook, heat the broiler to high and place a rack a few inches below. Remove the steak from the fridge and set it on the counter to warm while you prepare the vegetables.
Cut the peppers in half, and remove the stems and seeds. Peel and cut the onion into rough wedges. Toss the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Lay the vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet (with the outsides of the bell peppers facing up, like upside-down cups). Broil the vegetables until the tops are charred, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove vegetables as they are done and rearrange the remaining vegetables as needed to char directly beneath the heat. Cool slightly, then cut the vegetables into thin slices and arrange on a serving platter.
Pat the steak dry, but leave as much of the spice rub as you can. Place the steak in the middle of a broiler pan and slide it under the broiler. Cook for 4 minutes, then flip the steak. Cook another 3 to 5 minutes, until the steak is as done as you like: 115-120°F for rare, 120-125°F for medium rare, 130-135°F for medium. (See step-by-step instructions for How To Cook a Flank Steak in the Oven.)
Transfer the steak to a cutting board and rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak against the grain, and transfer the slices to the platter with the vegetables.
While the steak is cooking and resting, warm the tortillas by toasting them in a dry skillet over medium heat for roughly 30 seconds on each side. Keep the warmed tortillas stacked between two clean dish towels.
Serve the fajitas family-style at the table, along with a few of those extra toppings and plenty of napkins!
- Skirt steak can be substituted for the flank steak. The cooking times are the same.
- You can also grill your steak! Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for high-heat cooking and grill for 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
This recipe has been updated — first published May 2010.
(Image credits: Emma Christensen)