Fajitas taste best when the meat and veggies come straight off the grill, no question. But don't let that stop you when it comes to getting your fajita fix. I make this recipe entirely on the stovetop, where the spicy chicken picks up a touch of char from the grill pan and the peppers cook until they are completely tender. Add a dollop of creamy black bean spread and we have dinner.
The chipotle idea for these fajitas came from these pork cheeseburgers, which we made and loved — the chipotle peppers (plus the adobo sauce they frequently come in) pack a huge punch of flavor and heat. This is why the black bean spread is such a nice, mellow complement. I added some sour cream to my go-to black bean dip to make it smoother and a little more decadent, although you could use yogurt.
As for the toppings, we keep it pretty simple with onions, peppers, and some cilantro at our house, but pile on whatever you want. Avocado or tomatoes would also be great. When cooking the peppers, be sure to let the linger in the pan long enough to develop some blistered bits and crunchy edges.
I had some friends visiting last week and was looking for something easy and fun to serve them for dinner after a long day of traveling. This did the trick perfectly. It looks like a lot of ingredients, but it actually comes together quickly. I served everything in bowls, set a big plate of tortillas in the middle of the table, and let everyone dive in. We had chips and guacamole on the side, which rounded out the meal perfectly.
I have to say that the black bean spread was the biggest surprise in this recipe. It uses just a few simple ingredients, but delivers big on flavor. It really was the perfect companion to the spicy chicken, and I plan to make an extra-large batch of it at my next party to serve as a dip.
We didn't have any leftovers after our meal, but I think one or two of these fajitas would make a great lunch the next day, either warmed or eaten cold as a sandwich wrap. It could be worth cooking an extra chicken breast and some peppers just for the leftovers. – Emma
Chipotle Chicken Fajitas with Creamy Black Bean SpreadServes 2 to 4
For the chicken:
1 clove garlic, minced
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
1 teaspoon adobo sauce (from the jar or can the peppers came in)
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
For the black bean spread:
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 scallions, white and green parts chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeño pepper, minced
1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Small palmful of fresh cilantro (about 1 tablespoon)
Juice of 1/2 lime
For the fajitas:
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 small green bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 small red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 small onion, sliced thin
Salt and pepper
Cilantro, for serving
Lime, for serving
First, marinate the chicken. Combine the garlic, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, lime juice, cumin, salt, and pepper in a bowl and stir to combine. Put the chicken breasts in a shallow dish or pie plate, pour the marinade over, and allow to sit for about an hour at room temperature. Flip them once or twice to make sure all surfaces of the chicken are well-coated with the marinade.
While the chicken is marinating, prepare the black bean spread and cook the peppers and onions. For the spread, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the scallions, garlic, and jalapeño, and cook until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a food processor. Add the beans and all remaining ingredients. Process until smooth. Taste and add more salt or lime juice as needed. If the spread seems too thick, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until creamy. Set aside until needed.
To cook the peppers and onions, heat 3 teaspoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet (the same used for the black bean spread is fine). Add the peppers and onions along with salt and pepper. Cook until the peppers and onions are as soft as you'd like and a bit charred on the edges, 8 to 10 minutes total. Remove from heat and set aside.
Once the chicken has marinated, heat a grill pan over high heat and brush with vegetable oil. Turn on a kitchen fan or open a window in case the chicken gets smoky as it cooks. Lay the chicken breasts in the pan and pour the marinade over top. Cook the chicken for about 5-8 minutes on each side until cooked through. Thinner chicken breasts will cook more quickly than thick ones. Let the cooked chicken breasts rest on a cutting board tented in foil for 5 minutes. Slice into thick strips.
To assemble the fajitas, spoon some black bean spread onto a tortilla and top with chicken, peppers, onions, a squeeze of lime, and a sprinkle of cilantro leaves. Leftovers will keep refrigerated for up to a week.
This post was originally published 5/19/09.
(Image: Emma Christensen)