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Culinary SOS

Restaurant Chain Shares Recipes for Sizzling Chicken and Beef Fajitas

January 09, 1986|ROSE DOSTI | Times Staff Writer

Dear SOS: I'm crazy about the fajitas served at the El Torito restaurant chain. Is there a chance for the recipe?


Dear Reader: El Torito complied with two recipes--one using beef and the other chicken, and good recipes they are, too. Chicken fajitas are basted with achiote sauce, made with achiote powder, which can be found at any Mexican grocery store or Mexican products counter of supermarkets.

Both beef and chicken fajitas are served with refried beans, guacamole or a hot pepper relish (pico de gallo), and warmed corn or flour tortillas for wrapping the fajitas.

The idea is to serve fajitas sizzling on a platter. Restaurant cooks heat the inside of aluminum platters or skillets directly over a flame before piling the fajitas onto them for a sizzling effect. Do this with care. Alternatively, you can serve the fajitas piled on a heated platter or skillet if you don't want to fool with the flame, but the sizzling effect will not be there. Either way it's a good dish for family or company.


3 pounds tri-tip or bottom sirloin of beef


1/3 cup margarine

2 medium Spanish onions, cut into 1/4-inch julienne slices

4 medium green peppers, cut into 1/4-inch julienne slices

1 teaspoon seasoning salt

1 pound tomatoes, cut into wedges

Lemon wedges

Place meat in shallow pan. Pour Marinade over and let marinate in refrigerator 3 hours.

Remove meat from Marinade and cut into 1/2x3-inch strips. Melt margarine in large skillet. Add onions, green peppers and seasoning salt and saute until vegetables are tender.

Place meat in large cast-iron skillet and sear over medium heat. Remove from skillet when browned. Place another iron skillet upside down over high flame. Heat almost to point of smoking, about 90 seconds.

Remove hot serving skillet from burner and pile with meat strips and vegetables. Place tomato wedges over meat and vegetables. Garnish with lemon wedges. Makes 6 servings.


2 1/2 cups soy sauce

1 1/4 cups water

1 1/4 cups white vinegar

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon white pepper

Combine soy sauce, water, vinegar, garlic and pepper in large container. Whip with wire whisk until well mixed.

Variation: For Chicken Fajitas, use 3 pounds chicken breasts. Marinate and cut according to recipe for beef fajitas. Prepare as for beef, but baste chicken with Achiote Sauce while sauteing.

Achiote Sauce

4 ounces achiote powder

1 1/4 cups orange juice

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

Dash oregano

Place achiote powder, orange juice, garlic and oregano in blender container and blend until smooth.

Dear SOS: I have been searching for a rich, rib-sticking, saucy Hungarian goulash recipe. Could you accommodate my quest?


Dear Carol: My father, a chef, gave me this recipe for the goulash he served at his restaurants. The onions and tomatoes produce the liquid for the thick sauce, so you must cook them over very low heat to prevent rapid evaporation. You can add more liquid, if desired, however.


2 1/2 pounds boneless chuck beef, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

1 bay leaf, crumbled

5 onions, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons Hungarian-style sweet paprika

1 teaspoon salt

4 tomatoes, coarsely chopped

Broth or water, optional

Hot cooked egg noodles, optional

Combine beef, bay leaf, onions, garlic, paprika and salt in large saucepan. Add tomatoes. Cover and simmer over very low heat 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until meat falls apart when tested with fork. Add small amount of broth, if needed, to keep sauce from scorching. Serve over noodles. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Dear SOS: Several years ago The Times printed a recipe for the Waldorf rice pudding, which my family has enjoyed. I have lost the recipe and would appreciate it if you could replace it.


Dear Ginny: This rice pudding has a cream and egg top coating with a golden crust.


1/2 pound rice (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons short-grain, non-converted rice)

2 1/2 quarts milk

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup raisins


1/2 pint whipping cream

2 egg yolks

Rinse rice in cold running water. Drain well. Combine milk with a third of sugar and salt and bring to boil. Add rice, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour or until rice is soft, stirring occasionally. Add raisins, remaining sugar and vanilla to taste.

Turn mixture into oven-proof serving dish or individual pudding cups. Beat cream until soft and creamy. Add egg yolks and stir well. Spread mixture evenly over top of rice pudding. Place under broiler until brown on top, being careful cream does not scorch. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Dear SOS: Some months ago, my daughter prepared a dressing that was served with fresh fruit. It was a Times recipe and contained honey, vanilla yogurt, poppy seeds and eggs and it was cooked.


Dear Alice: Our recipe calls for sugar, not honey. Is this the one?


2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar or to taste

1/2 cup pineapple juice

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup vanilla yogurt

1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

Beat eggs lightly in saucepan. Add sugar, pineapple juice and lemon juice. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until thickened. Cool. Blend in yogurt and poppy seeds. Serve with fruit salad, such as a combination of sliced kiwi fruit, melon balls, honeydew wedges, grapes, sliced bananas dipped in lemon juice and pomegranate seeds. Makes about 2 cups dressing.

Only recipes of general interest will be printed. We are unable to answer all requests. Please include restaurant address when requesting recipes from restaurants. Send your letter with self-addressed, stamped envelope to Culinary SOS, Food Section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053.

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