Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sabado Gigante Part 2: Portobello and Gardein Fajitas with Special Salsas

¿Dónde está la biblioteca?
Sadly, man cannot live on cake alone (I'm working on a magic science pill to give you all those other nutrients so you can), so we were forced to make an actual dinner to go with my flan on Saturday. The plan was originally to make some grilled chicken fajitas, but one of our guests was vegetarian, which allowed me to reach back to my cooking roots and prepare a meal worthy of my sister's kitchen. I prepared portobello mushroom (the steak of the veggie world) and gardein (faux chicken) fajitas with the help of Kevin's grillmaster skills. Since last week's Top Chef featured a sauce quick fire challenge, I was dead set on prepping two outstanding salsas to bring out the flavor in the fajitas: a creamy salsa verde and a honey chipotle lime salsa.

Portobello Mushroom and Gardein Fajitas
Servings: About 12-15 fajitas
Grilling portobellos is pretty easy
Time: 20 minutes

4 Portobello Mushroom Caps
4 Gardein chicken patties, defrosted
Fajita Seasoning
Cayenne or crushed red pepper
Green bell pepper, sliced
Onion, sliced
Garlic, minced
Olive Oil
Salsa (recipes follow)

From far away it even looks like steak.

  1. Prep the faux meat! This can either take place on a grill or in a frying pan with some olive oil. 
  2. Clean the portobello mushrooms and remove the stems. Cut a shallow cross into the tops of the caps to help them absorb flavors. Place about half a tbsp of butter on top of each and grill with the lid closed for about five minutes or until the butter is sufficiently melted. Then flip the mushrooms, add more butter and grill closed for another five minutes or until the mushrooms are tender. Slice and serve.
  3. Season the gardein patties with cumin, fajita seasoning and cayenne or red pepper for spice. Grill for about five minutes per side or until grill marks form and the patties are heated throughout. Slcie and serve.
  4. Saute the bell pepper and onion in olive oil or butter with some minced garlic until the veggies become soft and fragrant.
  5. Warm the tortillas on the grill or in a frying pan then top with your "meat", veggies and salsa and enjoy.
I'm an even bigger fan of gardein now that I've had it grilled.
Luckily, I was able to avoid being arrested in Texas due to serving vegetarian options. Both the portobello mushrooms and gardein patties were packed with incredible flavor from the grill. Even the carnivorous folk devoured them. By themselves, the fajitas were amazing, but my two special salsas really helped them pack a wallop. 

Salsa Verde

2 avocados
10 tomatillos, stems removed
3 cloves garlic
2 jalapenos, stems removed
1 handfull of cilantro
Salt to taste
8 oz sour cream
1 tsp fajita seasoning

The sour cream will mellow it out a lot, so make sure you have enough jalapeno.
  1. Cook the jalapeno and tomatillos in boiling water until the tomatillos turn to become a dull brown (about 10 minutes). 
  2. Combine the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. 
  3. Chill in the fridge for 30-60 minutes and serve.
The salsa verde is perfect for dipping tortilla chips in while you wait for your fajitas. This restaurant standard is delightfully creamy with just the right kick from the jalapenos. The cilantro also plays a key role to make this a salsa to remember. Feel free to vary the amount of sour cream and jalapeno to control consistency and heat. Make sure display some patience and chill it because it's even more amazing cold.

Honey Chipotle Lime Salsa

12 oz.  tomato paste
1 tsp chipotle powder
Juice of one lime
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp honey
Salt to taste
Water to desired consistency

Kevin's hand modeling career is really starting to take off.
  1. Combine the tomato paste and chipotle powder in a sauce pan over medium-low heat. 
  2. Mix in the olive oil, lime juice and honey until smooth. 
  3. Add water to thin the salsa and let cook for five minutes.

My honey chipotle lime salsa was the star of the meal. It has just the right Tex-Mex balance of sweet and spicy that forces you to eat an extra fajita or two just so you can enjoy more of it (not that I say that from experience or anything...). Sadly, the recipe didn't produce much since I didn't want to water down the flavors heavily, so it quickly became extinct.

Just another typical night filled with special guests at my apartment.
Fajita night was the most wonderful kind of success: the kind that ends with us all feeling disgusting and unable to move from the couch. I'm just glad we all managed to somehow roll over long enough to finish it all off with my flan.

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