Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Skillet Chicken Fajitas: The Reckoning

Three brief points before today’s recipe:

-Pa and I were perusing his local CostCo on Sunday, when my old parish priest dragged his humongous shopping cart into the supplement aisle. I had never seen Father T. off the altar, much less wearing shorts, sneakers, and buying 250-count bottles of vitamins. As he pulled away, we wondered what else clergymen might obtain at bulk stores – vestments? Hymnals? Laminate siding for the pews? That place really does have everything.

-Whatever candidate you’re voting for, it can’t be denied that Michelle Obama was wonderful last night. Bright, beautiful, and ten feet tall, she’s everything I ever wanted in a First Lady. Henceforth, I’m calling her Michelle DaBomba (...sorry) and ordering stock from her dressmaker.

-I leapt back on to Weight Watchers yesterday, in hopes of dropping a few pounds before a friend’s wedding in October. My favorite part about this isn’t the PointTracker or the magic vegetable soup. No – it’s reading the Before and After stories on the WW website. Every time a Joan from Jacksonville or Sammi from Setauket loses 100 pounds, I do a little cheer inside. Like, if that 55-year-old mother of 17 can lose the equivalent of a 5th grader from her stomach? I can make my butt slightly smaller.

In honor of my return to WW, The Boyfriend and I ate a particularly healthy meal last night: Skillet Chicken Fajitas from Cooks Illustrated’s 30-Minute Best Recipe book. I’ve mentioned the tome before (along with intricate plans to stalk/mercilessly compliment editor Christopher Kimble), but I need to reiterate: I LOVE this cookbook. And I’m not talking the, “I love you as a friend” kind of love. I mean the, “if you accept my hand in marriage, we can run away to Tahiti and live in paradise with our 14 cookbook/human hybrid children” kind. It’s been invaluable for prepping quick meals after work, and the use of actual food-like ingredients prevents final products from being too Sandra Lee-ish. (Meaning: they’re not gross and/or infested with gloopy chemicals.)

CI’s directions are usually right on, but for nutrition’s sake, I did change two big things:

1) I chopped the oil significantly. Though a full ½ tablespoon is very necessary for the marinade, you don’t need a lot for sautéing purposes.

2) I altered the way the chicken is cooked. The book asks you to brown a whole breast and then finish it in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Instead, I sliced the breast into chicken tender-sized pieces, browned them for 3 minutes on each side, and then kept them warm until it was time to eat. This worked perfectly, and didn’t rob the meat of any moistness whatsoever. RAWK.

We ate the fajitas with black beans, though I’m sure they’d be faboo on a bed of yellow rice, as well. Either way – make sure you get as much of the marinade as possible. It is the stuff of addiction, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll drink leftovers like a milkshake. Um … not that that happened.

Anyway – enjoy!

Skillet Chicken Fajitas
Makes 2 to 3 servings
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated’s 30-Minute Best Recipe book

10 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 bell pepper (or two halves of different peppers), cored and sliced thin
½ red onion, sliced thin
1 tablespoon water
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon brown sugar

1) Slice chicken breasts to ½-inch thickness (like a chicken tender). Pat dry with a paper towel and season one side with salt and pepper. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in non-stick pan over medium heat. Add chicken seasoned side down and brown (about 3 minutes). During that time, season the side facing up. Flip the chicken and brown on the other side until cooked through (about 3 minutes). Remove from pan. Either place chicken on plate and tent with tin foil OR keep warm in oven.

2) While chicken rests, add 1/2 teaspoon oil to skillet. When hot, add bell peppers, onion, water, chili powder, and 1/4 teasoon salt. Cook about 5 or 6 minutes, until onion is softer and a little translucent.  Using tongs, place pepper mixture in serving bowl.

3) In a large bowl, combine remaining ½ tablespoon oil, lime juice, cilantro, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and 1/8th teaspoon salt. Set aside.

4) Slice chicken into bite-sized strips. Add to marinade. Toss to coat. Serve on a tortilla with pepper mixture OR over rice.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
2 servings: 258 calories, 9 g fat, $1.17
3 servings: 172 calories, 6 g fat, $0.78

10 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast: 312 calories, 3.5 g fat, $1.24
1 tablespoon vegetable oil: 124 calories, 14 g fat, $0.01
1 bell pepper: 24 calories, 0.2 g fat, $0.54
½ red onion, sliced thin: 45 calories, 0 g fat, $0.33
1 tablespoon water: negligible calories and fat, $0.00
½ teaspoon chili powder: 4 calories, 0.2 g fat, $0.01
1 tablespoon lime juice: 4 calories, 0 g fat, $0.13
½ tablespoon minced fresh cilantro: negligible calories and fat, $0.03
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce: negligible calories and fat, $0.03
¼ teaspoon brown sugar: 4 calories, 0 g fat, $0.01
TOTAL: 517 calories, 17.9 g fat, $2.33
PER SERVING (TOTAL/2): 258 calories, 9 g fat, $1.17
PER SERVING (TOTAL/3): 172 calories, 6 g fat, $0.78

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ellis said...

First of all, beyond admiration for Michelle Obama, which agreed- I find undeniable (saying so as a registered Republican)- could her daughters be any more charming? I think not.

Beyond that, I purchased the Best 30-Minute Recipes a month or so ago and share your astonishment at its results. I am obsessed with it. No other way to put it. I love cooking blogs and have considered starting my own, but since finding that cookbook I'm rather convinced I can't because for the next long while I don't know how I'd convince myself to cook from anything but that same book for the blog. I suppose that blog premise was achieved by the Julie/Julia project quite successfully, but at this point it seems the esteem for The Best 30-Minute Recipe is not quite equal to Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1. :)

Marcia said...

Hmm...I think I have that cookbook. I might have to peruse my shelf and look at the recipes again. I've been cooking my way through other books lately.

I love WW on-line. Love it. Lost 57 lbs 6 years ago, used it to lose the last 20 baby pounds, and working on those 3-4 pounds I gained on vacation right now. I can't tell you how much I love it, you know? Good luck with those few lbs...I also have an October wedding, and the bridesmaids' gown is non-forgiving to the size of my butt.