Mex It Up

Summertime grilling lends itself to a variety of exciting flavors by just changing up the seasonings and spices used in your marinade. Mexican chicken and beef dishes are easy to recreate on your barbecue with condiments you already have in your pantry. Nowadays, you can even serve them pareve.

Mexican Chicken Tacos

Chicken:

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder or cayenne pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 pounds chicken breasts

Pico de Gallo:

  • 6 plum tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded or not, diced fine
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro or parsley leaves, checked and chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ onion

Assembly:

  • Warm tortillas or wraps
  • Diced avocado
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro or parsley checked and chopped
  • Hot sauce
  • Pareve sour cream like Wayfare, optional

Combine salt and spices with the oil and juice in a Ziploc bag for the marinade. Marinate chicken in mixture for at least 2 hours.

To make the Pico de Gallo, combine the onion, tomato, jalapeno, cilantro or parsley, lime juice, and salt. Stir together and set aside.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Drain chicken well and grill for 5-6 minutes per side or until done. Remove from grill and allow to rest 5 minutes. Slice into strips. Place chicken strips, diced avocado and Pico de Pallo on a tortilla. Sprinkle with cilantro or parsley. Drizzle with hot sauce. Fold up and serve.


Tex-Mex Fajitas

Marinade & Meat:

  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 3 sweet pickled peppers or hot peppers
  • 3 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 pounds skirt, cut into 8-inch pieces

Assembly:

  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • Light olive oil
  • 12 flour tortillas, warm

Guacamole:

  • 5 ripe Hass avocados
  • 3 to 4 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Good quality store-bought salsa

Combine all the marinade ingredients. Using an immersion blender, puree the marinade until smooth. Transfer to a re-sealable plastic bag and add the steak. Seal and shake to coat. Refrigerate the beef for 2 to 4 hours to tenderize and flavor it.

Drain the marinade from the beef. Lightly oil the grill grate. Season liberally with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill the steak over medium-high heat and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest.

Toss the bell peppers and onions with a little olive oil. Grill onions and peppers for 7 to 8 minutes until the vegetables are barely limp.

Prepare guacamole:

  • With a tablespoon, scoop out the avocado flesh into a mixing bowl. Mash the avocados with a fork, leaving them still a bit chunky. Add all of the rest of the ingredients, and fold everything together.

Heat up the tortillas:

  • Turn on one burner to a medium-low flame. Place a tortilla on each flame and let it char about 30 seconds to 1 minute, flip the tortilla and repeat on the second side. Once heated and charred, wrap in a towel to keep warm. Repeat until you have warmed all of your tortillas.

To serve:

  • Thinly slice the steak against the grain on a diagonal.
  • Spread some guacamole on a tortilla, top with a few slices of steak, peppers and onions, and salsa. Roll up the tortilla to enclose the filling.

Happy grilling!


Readers may submit questions to the Culinary Connoisseur, c/o Hamodia, 207 Foster Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11230 or via e-mail to peppermill@hamodia.com. This weekly column has been brought to you by The Peppermill, the world’s first kosher kitchenware store, located at 5015 16th Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. (718) 871-4022. You can also read a selection of previous columns in their comprehensive cookbook, The Culinary Connoisseur, available now at your local Judaica and kitchenware stores. Jam-packed with delicious recipes, insightful food information and helpful cooking tips, this book is certain to become your constant companion in the kitchen.