While many find inspiration in Taylor Swift’s lyrics, I find inspiration in her favorite foods. A few months ago I tried out her favorite Mughlai Chicken recipe à la Nigella Lawson, and with its comforting creaminess and warming spices, it really hit the spot. It was only right that I continue cooking through her favorite recipes, and Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Fajitas with Cheat’s Mole Sauce were next on the list. An Englishman’s take on a classic Tex-Mex dish? I was skeptical, but given my previous success with Swift’s faves I decided to give it a shot.
Get the recipe: Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Fajitas with Cheat’s Mole Sauce
How To Make Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Fajitas with Mole Sauce
Start by making the marinade for the chicken and vegetables. In a large bowl, combine 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, the juice of half a lime, and 1/2 teaspoon each of sweet smoked paprika, mild chili powder, and ground cumin. To the bowl with the marinade, add two sliced bell peppers, 1 sliced red onion, and 4 chicken breasts that have been sliced 1/3-inch thick. Using tongs, toss ingredients to coat them in the marinade. Set aside while you make your sauce.
Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Add 2 chopped tomatoes, 2 tablespoons chipotle paste, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and a pinch of chili powder. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then add 200ml of hot water and continue to cook, mashing the large pieces of tomato with a wooden spoon. Cook until thickened, about 10 minutes more. Remove sauce from heat and grate in 15g of dark chocolate, then stir into the sauce until incorporated.
Next, cook the chicken and vegetables. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough chicken and vegetables to cover the bottom of the pan and cook until cooked through and slightly charred, about 3 minutes per side. Repeat until all chicken and vegetables are cooked.
Serve fajita mixture in warmed whole wheat tortillas topped with mole sauce, a dollop of yogurt, a sprinkling of chopped cilantro, and lime wedges on the side for squeezing.
My Honest Review of Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Fajitas with Mole Sauce
In truth, this dish is not much like the classic sizzling fajita dish that attracts the attention of an entire restaurant dining room as it’s delivered to a table. The chicken and vegetables do get a nice char, and the marinade brings a pleasant smokey-spiciness, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. These fajitas are quite light, and in my opinion are lacking some richness.
Unfortunately I found “Cheat’s” mole sauce more trouble than it was worth. I do love mole, but found it an odd pairing with the fajitas. Like the dish itself, the sauce really lacked some richness and body, possibly due to the lack of nuts and/or seeds. Cinnamon overpowered the flavor of the sauce, and with its texture it read a little like applesauce when eaten folded into the tortilla.
The lack of richness continued with the toppings — perhaps Chef Oliver has found a good yogurt to substitute for sour cream, but my whole milk yogurt was not doing the job. Without cheese or a rich sauce, these fajitas really need a dose of something creamy. Sour cream, sliced avocado, crema, or crumbled queso fresco or cotija cheese would be a welcome addition.
Overall, I think the marinade was good and the chicken and vegetables turned out great. Next time I’d serve them differently.