Chipotle, lime & tequila chicken fajita recipe

Chicken faijitas title © J Horak-Druiff 2013

Bless the Brits.  Ever since Thomas Cook chartered a train in 1841 to take a bunch of temperance campaigners from  Leicester to a rally in Loughborough twenty miles away, thus inadvertently founding the package tour concept, the British have been eagerly travelling the world in the tender care of companies such as Thomson Holidays, First Choice Holidays and (you guessed it) Thomas Cook Holidays.  The post World War II generation suddenly had unprecedented and cheap access to foreign destinations all over Europe and eventually far further afield, making them far more cosmopolitan in tastes and outlook than their parents ever were, and the trend has continued ever since.  Well, the trend for travel has continued – but has this really created a nation of suave culinary sophisticates, as comfortable ordering bacalhao or bruschetta as they are ordering baked beans? Not quite, evidently.  Late last year, Glorious! Foods, maker of a range of soups and dips, did an informal survey to try and pinpoint which foods Brits are nervous about ordering on menus, and the results were surprising.  We’ve all ordered food at some stage by pointing at a menu item rather than attempting to pronounce it (think the x-heavy Catalan menus of Barcelona), but it seems that foods that most of us would now regard as commonplace still afflict the average Brit diner with PPA (pronounciation performance anxiety – my term, not the survey’s!).  In fact, the list of feared foods and their tempting but incorrect pronounciations, is surprisingly heavily populated by European foods including:

  • Prosciutto  (WRONG = pros-koo-toe;   RIGHT =  pro-shoot-or)
  • Moules mariniere (WRONG = moo-les-marry-nary   RIGHT = mools mar-in-year)
  • Penne arrabbiata (WRONG = penny-arry-batty   RIGHT = pen-neh arr-ah-bee-ah-tah)
  • Gnocchi (WRONG = ger-nock-ee   RIGHT = knock-ee)
  • Chorizo (WRONG chor-it-so  RIGHT  = chore-ease-o)
  • Mascarpone   (WRONG = mask-a-pone   RIGHT mas-car-poh-neh)


Faijitas chipotle tequila lime  © J Horak-Druiff 2013

  I was actually surprised at the lack of Mexican food on the list, seeing as it can be tricky to pronounce and is now fairly ubiquitous.  I remember well when Spur Steak Ranches in South Africa rolled out their Tex-Mex menu and ater a month or two of people hesitantly ordering “kwes-a-dill-as” and “jal-a-pee-nose” , they came to our rescue with handy pronounciation guides.  Oh happy day!  Overnight, we all went from ordering fah-gee-tas  to fah-heat-us – problem solved!  But the uncertainty about pronounciation, it seems, nothing compared to the difficulty in distinguishing between the various ways employed by the Mexicans (and their US neighbours)  to serve a tortilla and some kind of filling. Far more embarrassing than mispronouncing your dish, would be to call your enchilada a taco! So here is a handy guide to the many wraps of  Tex Mex cuisine:

  • Tacos are small soft corn or flour tortillas that are  held in the hand and filled with chicken, meat, seafood, salsas – whatever you like! Classic street food. (Crispy taco shells, I am told, are an American invention.)
  • Burritos, also an American invention, consist of soft flour tortillas rolled around all sorts of fillings (often including beans) and tucked in at both ends to make a neat parcel.
  • Chimichangas are deep-fried burritos.
  • Enchiladas are soft corn tortillas, filled with meat or cheese and then baked covered in a chilli sauce.
  • Quesadillas are soft tortillas covered in cheese (and possibly other ingredients) , then folded in half and toasted.

But my runaway favourite dish remains fajitas – not least because they do not come to the table fully formed but arrive in pieces, to be assembled by each individual diner. Fajitas consist of strips of marinated steak or chicken; fried onions and peppers; possibly grated cheese and shredded lettuce; and condiments such as sour cream, guacamole and salsa – all wrapped in a soft flour tortilla.  heavenly. I have made them ever since I was a student, and I am still doing so, with gusto.  Usually, I simply season the chicken and sauté – but recently I thought I woudl jazz up my fajitas a little by marinating the meat overnight.   Faijitas diptych © J Horak-Druiff 2013   The impetus for this innovation arrived at my desk in the shape of a bag of adorable minature bottles of Patron tequila late last year.  As is the case with many of us (!), my first tequila experiences left something to be desired – think tequila slammers with cheap lemonade and cheaper tequila. Even when I grduated to the more sophisticated lemon and salt method of getting the stuff down I did not see the point.  It was only when I visited Mexico in 2005 that I finally inderstood that all the tequila I had tried up to that point was just bad tequila, and that there was Another Way. Failing a trip to Mexico, a bottle of Patron tequila is a good introduction to the way tequila should taste.  Made in Mexico from the heart of the agave cactus, it is a tequila made to be sipped, withouth the paint-stripping characteristics that have given tequila a bad name. I tried three variants: Patron Silver (a light, fresh tequila with the fresh green flavours of the agave plant and lemony notes);  Patron Anejo (a blend of tequilas, all aged in small oak barrels for at least 12 months, with a rich oaky flavour as well as smoky vanilla, caramel and sultana notes – definitely to  be sipped and savoured!); and Patron XO Cafe (a blend of patron Silver tequila and fine coffee essence – less saccharin than most coffee liqueurs and packed with dark chocolate and espresso flavours).  Quite apart from the contents, I fell head over heels in love with the little bottles – minatures of the standard bottles which are individually humbered and handblown  by a glassmaker using reycled glass. So how did I incorporate tequila into my usual fajita recipe? By ramping up the flavour of the chicken with an overnight marinade of tequila, lime and chipotle paste. It adds almost no time onto your prep, but it infuses the chicken with a delightfully smoky, citrussy flavour – perfect! I served mine on a snowy Sunday afternoon with homemade tomato salsa and guacamole, followed by an extra shot of Patron tequila (which always relaxes the tongue and helps with any pronounciation issues you may be having!).

DISCLOSURE:  I received the Patron tequila miniatures as free samples and was not required to post about them and received no other remuneration for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Other blogs who have been making it Mexican:


Faijitas  final © J Horak-Druiff 2013

4.7 from 3 reviews
Chipotle, lime & chilli chicken fajitas
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This old favourite Tex-Mex dish is given an extra flavour boost my marinating the chicken overnight in a tequila, lime and chipotle marinade.
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 4
  • 4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 generous Tbsp chipotle paste
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp good quality tequila
  • two onions, sliced into thin wedges
  • four bell peppers - a mixture of red and green, sliced into thin strips
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • salt and black pepper (or fajita seasoning mix, if you can find it)
  • olive oil for frying
  • 4 large flour tortillas
  • 2 cups of shredded lettuce
  • 150g full-flavoured cheese, grated
  • tomato salsa
  • guacamole
  • sour cream
  1. Slice the chicken into thin strips, place in a non-reactive glass or metal bowl.
  2. Mix the chipotle paste, tequila, lime juice and tequila well, pour over the chicken and mix well to ensure all the chicken strips are coated. Cover and refrigerate overnight (or as long as you can).
  3. Heat a little olive oil in a large pan and add the onion. Saute over medium heat until the onions start to soften slightly, then add the peppers and garlic and continue to fry until they are soft enough for your taste. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, season and keep warm.
  4. To the same pan, add the marinated chicken strips, turn up the heat, and stir continuously to stop them sticking or burning. Remove from the heat when they are just done (no longer pink when you cut them in half), season to taste and add them to the peppers and onions.
  5. Steam or microwave the tortillas to heat them, then serve the fajitas by laying all the components on the table - chicken and peppers; tortillas; lettuce; cheese; salsa; guacamole; and sour cream - and let guests assemble their own fajitas.


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  1. says

    Thank you for that handy guide! Now I know that the meal I serve my family under the name of tortillas (home-made flour ones) should really be known as fajitas!
    As an Italian specialist I reserve the right to be fussy about Italian pronunciation and ignorant of Mexican… my pet wince being ciabatta pronounced as siabata instead of chabatta!

    • Jeanne says

      LOL yes, I was surprised to learn that the distinguishing feature of fajitas was the filling – only chicken, onions & peppers doth a fajita make! And yes yes yes – Siabata – what is up with that?! I also cringe at ChoriTso. WTF? Do you see a t in there?!

  2. says

    You just gave me a wonderful idea for the next time my daughter comes for dinner – thanks a lot! We do not get that much Mexican food here in Switzerland and she is a great aficionada! LOL, your PPA!

    • Jeanne says

      It’s such a simple thing to cook, and you can make it as authentic as you like, provided you can get your hands on proper chillies! I am in love with my chipotle paste…

  3. says

    Your post had me making funny shapes with my mouth to check that I was pronouncing things properly. Thank goodness no one could see me. Lovely post Jeanne :) xx

    • Jeanne says

      True – it was hard to get here in London until a couple of years ago! Maybe one of the London online stores will shop to France, like Cool Chile Co., MexGrocer or La Costena?

  4. says

    Hehehe, Brits have a hilarious way of pronouncing foreign names!

    I love Mexican food, so those fajitas are for me. My kind of grub!



    • Jeanne says

      Don’t they just… They can’t seem to get their head around the fact that Italians actually say the final vowel, always! Mas-car-pone indeed…

    • Jeanne says

      Oooh, we need to get you to Lupita for a mezcal tasting! It’s not tequila, but it is in the same family,and the taste is like a peaty whisky. SO surprising!

    • Jeanne says

      Hi Lea-Ann – glad you enjoyed your visit to Cooksister & hope to see you again :) So true what you say – we assume that everyone knows what we know about pronounciation. Being South Africa, we assume everyone can say our place names – but when friends from Wisconsin visited they were totally baffled by Knysna (nighs-na) and Oudtshoorn (oats-horn) :)

  5. says

    Hi Jeanne, we seem to be on the same Mexican wavelength this week, I just put up lettuce ‘tacos’ with chipolte chicken – a carb free option. So tasty. I’m mad about cooking with tequila and love Patron Silver for this.

    • Jeanne says

      Great minds and all that! Love the carb-free twist :) I only discovered Patron recently but am now in love! Want to do a dessert with the coffee one too…