An unsung hero of the menu at Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ is the smoked fajitas. I first tried them at breakfast in the joint’s version of a steak-and-egg taco, and I was hooked. The meat was incredibly tender, with a hint of smoke and a savory flavor throughout. Chef Miguel Vidal uses inside skirt steak and credits a combination of a marinade and the slow cooking in his mesquite-fired smoker for the tenderness of the meat. For each order, the smoked skirt steak is then grilled to finish it. In addition to his pointers, he gave the recipe for his marinade, which uses beer, lime juice, onions, and garlic.
Valentina’s Cerveza Fajitas
- 1 smoker
- 1 grill, preferably charcoal-fired
- 2–3 pounds skirt steak (inside or outside will work)
- vegetable oil or ½ pound bacon
- Fiesta brand fajita seasoning
- 1 green bell pepper, sliced
- 1 large white onion, halved and sliced
- 1 twelve-ounce Mexican-style lager beer
- ¼ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice from 1 or 2 limes
- 1 small white onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- Mix the marinade ingredients well. The marinade will be enough for 2–3 pounds of skirt steak. Let the steak marinate overnight, or for at least 8 hours.
- Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees. Vidal and I both prefer mesquite wood for this recipe. Smoke the skirt steak for an hour. If you decided against marinating, spritz the meat every 15 minutes as it smokes with the same proportions of lime juice and beer in the marinade.
- While the meat smokes, preheat a (preferably charcoal-fired) grill. Place a cast-iron pan coated with vegetable oil on the grill (or fry ½ pound of bacon directly in the ungreased pan). Once the meat is done smoking, season both sides liberally with the fajita seasoning and let it rest for a few minutes.
- Add the peppers and onions into the hot pan and sauté them (this can all be done on your kitchen stovetop if you prefer).
- Place the smoked and seasoned skirt steak on the grill over direct heat and let it brown. With a hot fire, this will only take about 30–60 seconds per side. Don’t put more steak on the grill at once than you can closely monitor. It will burn pretty easily.
- Once the steak is done and the peppers and onions are tender, start building your tacos. When slicing the steak, remember that the grain of the meat doesn’t run the length of the skirt steak. It runs in the short direction, so first cut the long skirt steak into 3 to 4 individual steaks, then turn it so you can slice against the grain, about the thickness of a pencil.