Not much pleases backyard barbecue crowds more than a well-made fajita, and these fajitas fit that bill beautifully. Skirt steak rubbed in freshly ground spices and then grilled over charcoal, blackened bell peppers that are peeled and then cut into strips, and lightly charred green onions come together to create the fajita that other fajitas wish they could be. They are my top contender for what I will be feeding people through spring and into summer at lazy backyard barbecues this year. If you enjoy other toppings than what I have listed here, like sour cream and cheese, give it a shot this way first. The fat/flavors in those ingredients tends to mute some of the fresher flavors involved here, and you just might surprise yourself by how much you like these.
Ingredient note: Chile powder can vary widely in both flavor and strength, so use something you know you will like. I love ancho chile powder for its moderate heat, smokiness, and for how well it plays with both fire and beef. It usually works well in a crowd, pleasing both the chile lovers and the almost-chile-averse crowds, but if you aren’t sure about your guests palates, forget what I said above about the sour cream and plop a container of it on the serving table. It helps squelch the heat.
Grilling note: for this kind of basic grilling, it’s always a good idea to create a safe zone where you can move the steaks away from flare-ups. If you’re cooking with charcoal, this means that the charcoal should be piled to cover about 2/3 of the lower grill grate; the other third is your safe zone.
2 lbs skirt steak
1 1/2 tbsp ancho chile powder
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp freshly ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground cumin
3/4 tsp granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3-4 bell peppers (I prefer red and orange, but use what you’d like)
12-15 green onions
2 large fresno, jalapeno, or serrano chile peppers, thinly sliced, for serving
Salsa verde, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving
Flour tortillas, for serving
1. Prepare the skirt steak: In a small bowl, combine the ancho chile powder, kosher salt, coriander, cumin, granulated garlic, and black pepper. Stir until combined, then sprinkle half of the mixture over one side of your steak, pressing it into the steak with your fingers. Flip the steak and repeat on the other side, then let rest for half an hour. Once your steak is seasoned, preheat your grill.
2. While the grill heats, roast and peel the peppers: Place the bell peppers, whole, on a baking sheet. Place them under a hot broiler and broil, turning occasionally, until the skins are completely blackened. This can take 20-30 minutes, depending on your broiler*. Once they are totally black, remove them to a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap or something airtight, then let stand for about ten minutes. The idea is for the peppers to steam themselves a bit, making skin removal easy. Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel the burned and papery skins from them and discard the skin. Slice the peppers into 1/2″-2/3″ wide strips and set aside.
3. If your steak isn’t already cut into manageable pieces, cut it into 3 or 4 pieces for ease of grilling. Many times, when I purchase 2 pounds of skirt, it comes in one large piece that is thicker in some parts than others. It’s best to cut it into a few pieces so that each piece is of a more uniform thickness, if possible. Grill the steak to your desired likeness (for me, that’s just a hair shy of medium, before resting).
4. Remove the steak to a platter and let it rest for a few minutes while you grill the green onions: place the green onions on the grill grate and cook until lightly charred on all sides. Remove to a serving platter and let your guests use them whole, or you can cut them into 1-2″ pieces before placing on the platter.
5. Slice the steak, against the grain, into thin (or thick) strips, then serve with all of the accoutrements: tortillas (I like to warm mine on the grill as the coals are dying down), roasted bell pepper strips, fresno/jalapeno/serrano pepper slices, grilled green onions, salsa verde, and a squeeze of lime.
*You can also do this step on the grill if you want to keep your oven off, but I find it saves a bit of time to do it in the broiler.