Classic Fajitas

Classic Fajitas

3 medium avocados (preferably Hass)
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1 small jalapeno chile, minced
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, diced small
1/2 cup tomato juice
1 small chipotle chile, minced
1 medium red onion, diced small
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup lime juice
Table salt
1 (2.5 pound) flank steak
1/4 cup lime juice
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 very large onion, peeled and cut into half-inch slices
2 very large red bell peppers or green bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into large wedges
16 (10 inch) plain flour tortillas

Chunky Guacamole: Halve one avocado, remove pit, and scoop flesh into medium bowl. Mash flesh lightly with onion, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, salt, and cumin (if using) with tines of a fork until just combined.
Halve and pit remaining two avocados, and prepare. Gently scoop out avocado into bowl with mashed avocado mixture.
Sprinkle lime juice over diced avocado and mix entire contents of bowl lightly with fork until combined but still chunky. Adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary, and serve. (Can be covered with plastic wrap, pressed directly onto surface of mixture, and refrigerated up to one day. Return guacamole to room temperature, removing plastic wrap at the last moment, before serving).

Classic Red Table Salsa: Mix all ingredients, including salt to taste, in medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate to blend flavors, at least 1 hour or up to 5 days.

For Charcoal Grill: Ignite about 7 quarts charcoal and burn until coals are completely covered with thin coating of light-gray ash, 20 to 30 minutes. Pile coals on one-half of grill bottom, position grill rack and heat until very hot (you can hold your hand 5 inches above grill surface for 2 seconds). For Gas Grill: Turn all burners on gas grill to high, close lid, and heat grill until hot, 10 to 15 minutes.

Fajitas: Generously sprinkle both sides of steak with lime juice, salt and pepper; place directly over coals or on gas grill grate and grill until well-seared and dark brown on first side, 5 to 7 minutes (4 to 6 minutes, covered, on gas grill). Flip steak using tongs; continue grilling on second side until interior of meat is slightly less done than you want it to be when you eat it, 2 to 5 minutes (3 to 5 minutes on gas grill) more for medium-rare (depending on heat of fire and thickness of steak). Transfer meat to cutting board; cover loosely with foil, and let rest 5 to 10 minutes. Slice very thin, on bias against the grain; adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper.
When charcoal fire has died down to medium or gas grill burners are adjusted to medium (you can hold your hand 5 inches above grill surface for 4 seconds), grill onions and peppers, turning occasionally, until onions are lightly charred, about 6 minutes, and peppers are streaked with dark grill marks, about 10 minutes. Remove onions and peppers from grill and cut peppers into long, thin strips; set aside. Arrange tortillas around edge of grill; heat until just warmed, about 20 seconds per side. (Do not dry out tortillas or they get brittle; wrap tortillas in towel to keep warm.) Remove to platter; set aside.

Serving Fajitas: Arrange sliced meat and vegetables on large platter; serve immediately, with tortillas, salsa, and guacamole passed separately.

Yield: 8 servings

Cooks Illustrated