Tequila-Marinated Chicken Fajitas

Morita chiles are red, fully mature Chipotles. This gives them a unique, medium – hot smokey flavor which is popular in many Southwestern dishes. These can be added to sauces (including Mole) to add smokey flavor and maintain the red color of the sauces. These peppers are about 2-4 inches in length, 1 inch in width, and have a deep brick reddish brown color. The word Chipotle translated to smoked chile. Consider the Chipotle a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the hottest). Scoville heat units 7,000-25,000.

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1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup tequila
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1-1/2 tsp. chipotle chile purée**
3 pounds boned, skinned chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
1 tsp. salt
3 pounds red onions, peeled
3 pounds red, yellow, and/or orange bell peppers
24 flour tortillas (6″ wide)
Avacado orange salsa (see recipes)

In a large bowl, mix the orange juice, lime juice, tequila, oil, chipotle purée, and salt. Reserve 1/2 cup of the mixture. Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap; with a flat mallet or a rolling pin, pound until the breast is an even 3/4″ thick. Peel off waxed paper or plastic.

Place the chicken in a bowl with the marinade; turn to coat. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours (see note).

Slice the onions 3/4″ thick. Rinse, stem, and seed the peppers; cut into eighths lengthwise. Brush the vegetables generously with the reserved orange-juice mixture.

Set the vegetables on a barbecue grill over a solid bed of medium coals or medium-high heat on a gas grill (you can hold your hand at grill level only 4 to 5 seconds); close the lid on the gas grill. Cook, turning as needed, until the vegetables are browned and tender when pierced, 8 to 12 minutes total. Transfer to a platter as cooked.

Lift the chicken from the marinade (discard used marinade) and lay on the grill; close the lid on the gas grill. Cook, turning the chicken as needed to brown evenly, until no longer pink in the center (cut to test), 6 to 10 minutes total. Transfer to a board and let stand until cool enough to handle, then slice across the grain 1/2″ thick.

To assemble the fajitas, lay the tortillas on the grill as needed, turning them quickly, just until warm, 3 minutes total. Fold a warm tortilla around the chicken, peppers, and onion; top with avocado-orange salsa.

Note: For best texture, dont marinate the chicken longer than 4 hours.

Yield: Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Recipe from Sunset Magazine, September 2004.