Just a bit of light reading on a somber day like today. Thoughts and prayers to you Boston.
One of my favorite restaurants from my hometown of Houston is Pappasito’s. Hands down the best fajitas you will ever have in your life. Especially the beef fajitas. Somehow they manage to get the beef so tender that it melts in your mouth. Unlike most other beef fajitas …. you take a bite and the entire contents come along for the ride.
Several years ago I was at the Dallas airport on my way back to California and saw that they had a mini Pappasito’s in the terminal. Of course I ran in for a quick beef fajita. I asked the waiter how the heck they get the meat so tender and he said, “hold on, let me go check.” I was half kidding when I asked him but when he came back he said they marinate flank steak in papaya juice and soy sauce. I also think he said pineapple juice too but I couldn’t remember. I just kept repeating “papaya” in my head over and over until I got back home so I could try it out myself. Papaya seemed like such an unusual ingredient to me at the time, but science says that the papaya fruit has special tenderizing powers, (enzymes, etc.) Anywho, I was so satisfied with the results. Thank you Pappasito’s waiter at the airport.
I recently remembered how much I loved those fajitas and made them again. I thought I would share it on the ol’ blog …
This is how to prepare the fajita meat (pictures below)
Marinade for 2 lb flank steak:
- 4 cups papaya juice
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
Poke several holes into the steak with a fork or knife to allow the marinade to penetrate. Put the steak in a large baking dish and completely cover it with the marinade. Cover dish with plastic wrap and allow to marinate in the fridge for 3 to 24 hours (the longer the better). Take the meat out of the fridge and bring to room temperature for about half hour (very important for accurate cooking time). Discard marinade and pat the meat dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture (also very important to get that nice crust). Then coat with salt and pepper. I used coarse sea salt and fine ground pepper. Time to grill . . . I used an outdoor gas grill on HIGH. Oil the grill carefully and put the meat on. If one side seems fattier than the other, put the fatty side up. That way the fat can melt into the meat as the first side cooks. Cook for 4 minutes with the grill lid closed. Turn to the other side and cook for another 4 minutes with the grill lid closed. Take the meat off the grill and quickly transfer to a clean large pan or dish and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. It will keep cooking under the foil. If you cook it any longer on the grill then you risk really over cooking the thinner ends of the meat.
As a decadent variation, I also like to chop up the meat, throw it in a pan with butter and minced garlic (yum) for a very quick sauté. This is also great to do for leftovers too! Put it over rice.
Meat after its 12 hour bath . . .
Nicely patted dry and coated with salt and pepper, ready for the grill . . .(feel free to get creative with other rubs. Cumin, chili powder, etc.)
Grilled and rested. Ready to cut . . .
A choice of done-ness for all. Well done at the edges and medium pink in the middle . . .
Here is an extra step that is great for any left overs . . . chop it up and saute it in garlic butter and a squeeze of lime…
Add your favorite fixings and enjoy.
Until next Monday!