Do you remember Applebee’s sizzling fajitas? I sure as hell do. My family are folks who consider Olive Garden and Applebee’s to be “nice” restaurants, saved only for occasions such as birthdays, graduations or promotions at work. We also did not grow up adventurous eaters. I had my first brussel sprout when I went to college, I learned to my utter wonderment when I was 13 that there were OTHER OPTIONS to cooking a piece of meat besides well done (or, charcoal, if my mom is cooking), and the piece de resistance is that I developed an anaphylactic allergy to all seafood until I was 26 due to my utter lack of exposure to it. Happy to say that after many tests and many severe reactions, I now only am allergic to only shrimp, crab and lobster. Small wins.
Back to Applebee’s. Picture this: I am 17, with a car I just purchased with my OWN money, and my parents feel no need to impose things like a curfew on me because I was a goody two shoes who didn’t need one anyway. It’s a Friday night and I have finally reached new levels of popularity with some of the cool girls, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I have my own car and my parents don’t ask a lot of questions. What do we do? We hit up the local Applebee’s and slid into a booth near the bar so we can attempt to look older than we are. Spoiler Alert: we all have braces and fool no one.
After we order, we start gossiping and creating elaborate stories about the bar patrons. This goes on for about 10 minutes, talking in a scream whisper only teen girls seem able to reach, when I hear it before I have ever even seen it. The Sizzilin’ fajitas. Our server places a screaming hot cast iron of chicken fajitas in front of my friend and my mind.is.blown. Not only is this pan so hot it is literally sizzling minutes after it left the kitchen, but as someone who had just enrolled in a Culinary school part time, the presentation was perfect. Fajitas quickly become my new favorite food and I try to push them on my mother and sister weekly, who need a marketing campaign and a trial study of their closest friends and family to get them to try new things.
I haven’t been to Applebee’s in probably over 10 years. I grew up and went to culinary school, where the illusion of what a “nice” restaurant is shattered in front of my eyes. I learned how to make fajitas on my own, and dammit if they are not lightyears better than Applebee’s. The tequila in the marinade is one of the keys, but truthfully, it’s all about grilling the chicken. We have a charcoal grill, and you just can’t get the same flavor from an electric or gas grill. I think it makes all the difference. While you have the tequila out to make the chicken marinade, go ahead and make yourself a big batch of margaritas to keep in the fridge.