Quick Chicken Fajitas

The last of our four children graduated from college in May.  High five!  I thought I’d tell you a tale of chicken tacos gone awry on a very busy graduation day.

On that day, Roger and I got up early since it was going to be a three-hour drive to our daughter Amy’s university.  Sara, Amy’s twin, and Blake, Amy’s boyfriend, joined us for the drive.  We left the house at 10 am, planning to have lunch when we arrived at around 1 pm.  Amy had to be at the auditorium at 3 pm, and she was waiting for us to bring the dress she wanted to wear under her graduation gown.

We generally make a pit stop halfway, and we were right on schedule at 11:30 when we stopped at a local Starbucks.  Roger and I split a scone to carry us through until lunchtime because we had had such an early breakfast.  I was actually hungry enough to eat lunch, but we decided to stick to our original plan and have lunch when we got there.

Shortly after we resumed our journey, boom—we hit major traffic delays due to construction.  There was no way around it, and we were driving at a snail’s pace the rest of the way.  Blake suggested we call Amy and ask her to pick up a bunch of tacos at a local Mexican restaurant that offered $1 tacos—small but tasty—in order to save time.  At this point, everyone was really hungry, and we each ordered multiple tacos.

We arrived at 2:40 pm, almost two hours late with just 20 minutes remaining for Amy to change into her dress and for all of us to eat and then drive to the school.  As I made a bee-line for the bathroom due to the long drive, I heard Amy loudly complaining that the restaurant had screwed up the order and had included only one chicken taco instead of the five she had ordered.  Gah!

I came out of the bathroom to find everyone eating hurriedly, standing up around the table (kind of like pigs at the trough).  At that point, I, too, was ravenous because it had been a really long time since breakfast.  Sara said to me, “We saved you a taco.”  (Sporting of them.)  I picked it up and took a bite, then another, then a third bite.  At that point, Roger said to me, “Fran, there’s paper around the taco.”  What?!!  Even when he told me, I had to look very closely to see that there was indeed paper wrapping around the taco.  It was so sheer and wet from cooking oil that it was transparent.

I had eaten three bites of the taco, paper and all!  At that point, we were all doubled over laughing which certainly lessened the stress we had all been feeling.  I have no doubt that this incident will become part of our family lore.  Someday, Amy will tell her kids that their grandmother was so hungry the day she graduated that she ate a taco including the paper wrapping!

Here a bite, there a bite...

I guess I should say a word or two about the recipe for these tasty chicken fajitas I’m posting today.  I’ve been making them since they first appeared in Bon Appétit  in July 1990.  Since I’m a wuss when it comes to heat, I go easy on the cayenne.  Feel free to add a jalapeño to amp things up if you like.  I just wouldn’t add any paper.

One year ago:  Skewered Chicken with Asian Pineapple Sauce

Quick Chicken Fajitas

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  • 3 tbl. vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 4 boneless chicken breast halves, skinned, cut into strips
  • 1/2 cup or more cilantro, chopped
  • Warm flour tortillas
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 avocado, peeled, chopped
  • 1 cup purchased salsa, optional
  • Pkg. of Mexican blend cheese


Heat oil in heavy large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.  Add onion and bell pepper and sauté until almost tender, about 10 minutes.  Add cumin, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, oregano and thyme and continue cooking one minute.  Mix in broth and bring to boil.  Add chicken and stir until cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Add cilantro.

Spoon chicken mixture into tortillas.  Top with tomato, avocado, cheese and salsa.

Fran’s Notes

If you have enough left-over cooked chicken from another meal, slice it and throw it in after broth has boiled.  You can also just purchase a rotisserie chicken at the supermarket and cut that up.

Source:  Adapted from a recipe from the July 1990 issue of Bon Appétit

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