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Cilantro-Lime Steak Fajitas with Roasted Poblano Sauce

February 1, 2011

We have an awesome group of friends who love to host dinner parties and barbecues. It makes for some pretty fun Saturday nights. Last weekend, we we went to our friends’ house for some delicious barbecued burgers. And were they ever good. But it’s been awhile since we hosted. It was high time we had a dinner party at our place. But what to make?

We knew that there would be at least eight people coming over, so we wanted something that would be easy to share, but satisfying for that number of people. And it didn’t help that we waited until Saturday morning to decide to throw a Saturday night dinner party—that doesn’t give you a whole lot of time to plan out a menu. I ran through a list of ideas in my head. Throw something in the slow cooker while we ran weekend errands? Bake a large casserole or gratin? I was lost.

Finally, Patrick said the magic words: how about flank steak? Bingo. Marinate some flank steak all day, make a slew of delectable sides, whip up an awesome sauce, and you’ve got the makings of a great dinner party on your hands. Just don’t forget the margaritas.

It was a great decision all around. First, you can prep almost everything before your guests arrive. Marinate the steak. Make all the sides and the sauce. When everyone’s ready to eat, all you have to do is cook the steak. Saturday was a rainy night here in San Francisco—although all the margaritas and limes would have made you think otherwise—so we just heated up the stove-top grill once we’d had our fill of chips, salsa, and guacamole, and were ready for something more substantial. Flank steak only takes about 8-10 minutes to cook, so you’re ready to enjoy some very yummy steak fajitas in no time.

And wow were these cilantro-lime steak fajitas ever good. The cilantro-lime marinade was simply delicious, and it paired oh-so well with the grilled bell peppers and caramelized onions. Plus, the roasted poblano sauce was fantastic. Really, really fantastic. It adds so much flavor (and a little heat) the the steak fajitas. And it would work in any number of dishes. Atop a grilled quesadilla or fish tacos. Or—more adventurous—as a garnish on a soup. I might try this last option tonight. We’ll see how it goes…

All-in-all, I was so happy with the result. Great food, great company. And I think everyone was very pleased all around. Cheers.


Serves 8

For the cilantro-lime marinated flank steak:

(adapted, a little, from All Recipes)

5 garlic cloves
1 small red onion, chopped
2 limes, juiced
1 medium jalapeño pepper
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup olive oil
4 lbs. flank steak

For the roasted poblano sauce:

(adapted, a little, from Martha Stewart)

2 poblano peppers
1 jalapeño pepper
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 ripe avocado
1/4 cup olive oil
juice from 1 lime


queso fresco, crumbled
caramelized onions
grilled bell peppers
shredded red cabbage
avocado, sliced or cubed
sour cream or crema
fresh cilantro

… and, of course, tortillas

1. Prepare the cilantro-lime marinade. Toss all the ingredients for the cilantro-lime marinade (except the olive oil) into a food processor, and puree until everything is chopped and combined. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil, until the marinade is smooth and combined. Place the cilantro-lime marinade and the steak in a resealable plastic bag (or just a regular dish) and marinate for 5 hours (or overnight).

2. Make the roasted poblano sauce. Place each poblano pepper directly on the burner of a gas stove* over medium-high heat. Using tongs, turn the pepper to roast each side, until all the skin on the pepper is blackened (see photo). Place the peppers in a bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap for 15-20 minutes. During this time, the peppers will “sweat” and cool down. Once they’re cool enough to handle, place them on a cutting board and, using your hands, rub/peel off the charred skins and discard. Remove the stem, seeds, and ribs. Place in a food processor, along with the cilantro, avocado, lime juice, a few pinches of salt, and the jalapeño pepper—I keep the seeds in the jalapeño, because I like the heat, but if you want a milder sauce, feel free to remove the seeds and ribs. Process until everything is chopped and combined. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil, until the roasted poblano sauce is smooth and combined. Set aside until you’re ready to assemble (and enjoy!) the fajitas.

3. Prepare the toppings. While the steak is marinating, get all your toppings ready to go. Slowly caramelize a couple large yellow onions (for directions on how to do this, see here and here). Crumble the queso fresco into a bowl. Shred the cabbage, and toss with a little lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place some fresh cilantro leaves in a bowl. Slice or cube the avocado, and top with a little lime juice to keep it from turning brown. Cut the bell peppers into strips, and grill until they just begin to soften (but still have a little crunch) and have some nice grill marks (if you’re using a charcoal or gas grill, you can cook the bell peppers as part of step 4, below).

4. Grill the flank steak. Heat up up your grill—charcoal, gas, or stove-top, whatever you’re using—and grill the flank steak, about 4-5 minutes per side (depending on the thickness of the cut) for medium-rare. Remove the steak from the grill, and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Thinly slice the steak against the grain (see photo).

5. Assemble your fajita with your toppings of choice. And enjoy!

* If you don’t have a gas stove, place the peppers under the broiler on a rimmed baking sheet, and broil (turning occasionally) until the skins are charred.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Dawson permalink
    May 13, 2012 5:48 am

    This is an excellent recipe. From the beautiful colors to the brilliant blend of flavors to the fact that I nearly used an entire bunch of cilantro which usually turns black in my veggie drawer, this recipe is one I will follow again.


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