I’ve mentioned previously that I’m not a fruit-with-my-meat kind of girl. It’s just never appealed to me. Everything from turkey with cranberry sauce to pork chops and apples just sounds…not good. I’ve tried a few variations and they’ve just never been my thing.
Pineapple on pizza is actually one of those things I file in the “gross” category. But, I kept trying pineapple in different combinations, and ended up thinking it was actually okay in more savory dishes. A week after I made (and enjoyed) a “Hawaiian” barbecue sauce with pineapple, I decided to try out this recipe.
While I have a standard chicken fajita recipe that I really enjoy (and other off-the-cuff versions I’ve thrown together many times) these are definitely different from others I’ve made. Let’s get the huge thing out of the way – they have no cheese. Crazy, I know. While they do include common fajita ingredients like peppers and onions, they’re also made with carrots, jicama, and pineapple.
To my own amazement, I really enjoyed these (did I also mention that I think carrots are, generally speaking, pretty blah?). The jicama and carrots were just slightly sweet and provided a bit of a crunch. The pineapple added a little sweetness, and the chipotle a great smokiness.
It was actually my intention to use steak in these fajitas, like in the original recipe, but Tom ended up making an impromptu trip to the butcher’s a night earlier in the week to pick up some grass-fed ribeyes (mmm). So, I decided to go with chicken thighs rather than eating red meat twice that week. I also amped up the meat content. I completely forgot to buy a jalapeno, so I ended up just using chipotle, which was perfect because it lent some smokiness to the dish, in addition to heat. I’ve actualy found chipotles to be my “gateway” ingredient when it comes to trying sweet things in savory dishes. It somehow makes adding them okay. Great, even.
Like Bittman suggested, we had these with some very simple guacamole, and I also made my “famous” beans, of course. Zachary loved this whole meal (I did take his portion out before adding the tequila since it didn’t cook for long after that) and kept asking for more of everything. More chicken! More pineapple! More beans! The kid loves Mexican-inspired food as much as I do, for which I’m very grateful. In fact, the other night, he was VERY upset about having to wash his hands before dinner (much like keeping socks on, it’s akin to torture) and in the middle of a whiny toddler temper tantrum, he managed to eek out “QUESADILLA!!” between cries (we were not actually having quesadillas that night, much to his disappointment).
Not Your Usual Chicken Fajitas
Adapted from Mark Bittman
4 tsp. canola oil, divided
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into strips
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 large bell pepper, cut into strips
1 chipotle in adobo, minced
1 large carrot, cut into sticks
5 oz. jicama (about half a jicama), cut into sticks
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup cubed pineapple (canned and packed in its own juice is fine)
3 Tbsp. lime juice
1/4 cup tequila
warmed tortillas and garnishes of your choice for serving
Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
Put a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat until it smokes. Add 2 tsp. of the oil and, a few seconds later, the chicken. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes. Add the onion, bell peppers, chipotle, and garlic and cook, stirring, until they turn soft and golden brown, and chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove everything from the skillet.
Add the remaining 2 tsp. of oil to the skillet. Raise the heat to high and add the jícama and carrots. Stir immediately, then cook, stirring every 30 seconds or so, until the vegetables soften and begin to char slightly, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer everything to the plate with the chicken.
Add the pineapple, lime juice, and tequila to the skillet. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring to scrape any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, until the glaze thickens a little. Return all the vegetables and meat to the pan and toss to coat with the lime and tequila mixture.