Product Type: Old El Paso Ready Meals
Newest Review: ... can find fajitas that are delivered temptingly on sizzle plates. So now to the Old El Paso Fajita kits. The basic kits themselves inclu... more
You can't beat a fajita
Old El Paso Fajita Dinner Kit
Member Name: silverstreak2
Old El Paso Fajita Dinner Kit
Date: 29/06/05, updated on 30/06/05 (10178 review reads)
Advantages: Easy to prepare, Authentic taste
Disadvantages: Smelly kitchen afterwards
Iím not normally one for buying ready meals or packet mixes, as both my husband and I prefer to make things like casseroles and pasta sauces from scratch, but when it comes to Mexican food, we make an exception, firstly because neither of us knows much about how to cook it, and secondly because some time ago we discovered the Old El Paso range of dinner kits, including the fajitas version which Iím going to talk about here. Having eaten fajitas in a number of different restaurants, I can honestly say that I found this kit to be one of the most authentic reproductions Iíve tried - very often, the food in ready made meals bears no resemblance to the real thing and is generally not worth buying in my view.
You can find these packs, which come in a flattish, square box, along by the pasta sauces and cook-in-sauces in most supermarkets, and the cost varies, but is usually somewhere between £2.70 and £3. Very often, theyíll be on offer, say at £1 off, and we tend to buy a couple at a time when this happens. They have a best-before date of about seven months ahead, so provided you store them in the right conditions, you shouldnít have any problems regarding freshness and so on.
Inside the pack, youíll find a sealed plastic pack containing eight fairly similarly sized flour tortillas, which resemble a pancake in appearance, and Iím pleased to say, they donít stick together, which was a problem we had when we tried a cheaper supermarket brand, where the tortillas had to be torn apart, resulting in huge holes in each one and rendering them next to useless. Thereís also a small packet of dried spice mix, and a sachet of mild salsa, which happens to be quite chunky, again unlike the supermarket own brand. Each of these ingredients is available separately in the Old El Paso range, the only difference being that the salsa comes in a jar, there is more of it, and you can buy both mild and Ďpiccanteí(hot) varieties. Needless to say, itís more expensive to buy the items individually; however, if you prefer corn tortillas to the flour type, at least the option is there.
To make the fajitas, youíll need one or two sweet peppers (they recommend red and green, but frankly, I think itís immaterial), an onion, and your choice of filling, whether it be chicken, beef, or vegetables. You can even use minced beef, as it holds together reasonably well when itís mixed with the other ingredients. So, cut your peppers, onion and meat (unless itís minced) into strips and stir-fry these in a little olive oil for about five minutes, to brown the meat and soften the vegetables, then add the spice mix evenly and stir for about another five minutes. I found that the powdered mix, rather than sticking to the pan, develops into a rich sauce as itís cooked, giving the meat and vegetables a nice, moist coating. One thing to mention at this point is that, if youíre cooking for less than four people, you might want to use just half the packet of spice, as itís rather pungent, and your mouth will feel as though itís on fire otherwise. We also use just four of the tortillas, because we cook this meal for the two of us only, and the remaining tortillas can be refrigerated for a couple of days, or frozen for later use. I donít recommend that you keep them in the freezer for very long though, as they tend to come out somewhat cardboardy after a while.
To heat the tortillas, you can either do so in the microwave, or alternatively, wrap them in tin foil and put them in the oven for about 15 minutes Ė either way is just as effective, but the microwave version will obviously be quicker. After this, you can either fill the tortillas with the mixture, adding a dollop of salsa to each one, or if you have a food warmer, and youíre serving these to guests, you might prefer to bring all the items to the table and let people help themselves. I always serve the fajitas on a bed of chopped lettuce, with either a garlic or sour cream and chives dip, both of which help to counteract the pungency of the spices Ė all these things are a matter of individual taste of course, and everybody will find a version that they prefer Ė there are no hard and fast rules. If I want to turn the fajitas into enchiladas, I just place them in a fairly shallow dish, spread a layer of crŤme-fraiche on top, followed by the salsa, and then add some grated cheddar cheese before putting them in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Again, the crŤme-fraiche acts as a contrast to the spiciness of the dish. You can buy the enchiladas kit as a separate item, but this contains corn tortillas, which weíre not keen on, so we prefer to do it this way.
Finally, I serve these with a chilled, crisp and slightly bland white wine, which we find the perfect match, or you could also have an ice cold beer if you prefer. This is such an easy meal to prepare, that as I mentioned earlier, itís hardly worth trying to prepare the salsa and the fajita sauce myself, and in any case, I donít think I could capture the taste as well as they have done here. The drawbacks, and of course, there are some, are that the spicy taste lingers on your breath for a good while afterwards, and youíll need to use an industrial strength mouthwash for a day or two; secondly, the smell tends to linger in the kitchen too Ė itís not altogether pleasant to come down the next morning to the smell of last nightís dinner, so itís wise to use an air freshener or scented candle after youíve got rid of the washing up. Apart from this, Iíd happily recommend this dinner kit as a reasonably cheap and quick meal choice. For those interested, there are about 850 calories per portion, based on the packet alone, and before adding any dips or anything else. Oh dear!