The Gravy: In the Kitchen with Andrew Duhon

“This is definitely one of my favorite dishes. I guess I could trace the whole thing back to when my dad and I used to make fajitas. My dad used some

Photo by Elsa Hahne

store-bought marinade, really close to a salad dressing, and when you’d cook it, it’d reduce to almost a paste and it’d latch on to the beef or the chicken strips. But you’d have to cook it so long the meat got tough, so I switched to the way I’m cooking it. Cutting the breast into tenderloins, throwing that on the grill, getting a nice charred smoke-thing going on, and then cutting it so you have a tender inside. My dad always did the grated cheese, which I do as well. That’s not very authentic to the Mexican thing, but more of the fajita thing. You won’t see fajitas on the menu at the authentic Mexican spots. You’ll see burritos and tacos. My dad would do sour cream, diced fresh tomatoes, and that was about it, some store-bought salsa as well.

The other reason I like making fajitas is that it incorporates a New Orleans characteristic, in my mind, where you can pile on hot things until you can’t take it anymore. Jalapeños, and you can add Creole hot sauce to the salsa or the guacamole. I almost like to hurt myself with hot sauce sometimes.

My parents went to Peru and brought back this pepper tree. It was like a pepper chandelier, and for a month or two I was picking peppers off and trying them on different things. I should have studied up a bit because I found out later that I was messing with the habañero, and just scorching myself.

If I go all out and make the salsa and the guacamole, it’s quite a bit of slicing and dicing, which I find therapeutic. For my dad, this was one of those easy meals that were quick and tasty. I don’t think his interest in the dish is quite the same as mine. It was more of a utility and a taste thing.

I’ve tried to get really good at, to master this dish because I’ve had it for a long time, in several different forms, and it keeps popping up in different places in my life journey.

My dad gave me this grill. He had cooked on it for the longest time and it was in his shop and the grill grate broke. I knew how much he liked it, so I called the company up and asked if they could send a replacement. It wasn’t even twenty bucks. After that, my dad got a bigger grill and sent me on my way with this one. When I was working on my last record [Songs I Wrote Before I Knew You], I ate more bar mixed nuts than fajitas, especially when I was writing the sad bastard songs. Lyrically, that’s how it happens for me. It’s about the story, the words. Poetry is amazing to me. The melody comes out of the lyrics, out of the feeling.

Fajitas help with a state of mind that I find healing and therapeutic. My music is subtle and mellow, but I think there’s something very real about the human condition that I’m trying to get across. Just by speaking simply about what I see or what I do, or maybe making up a story about familiar images. But I think subtlety along with real freshness have to do with both fajitas and what I like about songwriting. It’s a little lame, but there is a comparison to be made. Ladies don’t mind it either when you can cook. This is one of those second or third date things. Cook them fajitas and they’ll love you forever.

My passion for cooking has taught me the value of subtlety. Subtlety is key, and I didn’t realize that for the longest time. Writing a song, ‘I have all this I want to say,’ but you can shorten the spectrum into this language that still contains the spectrum, but so subtly and eloquently that you no longer have a hundred ingredient salsa, you just have pico, and it’s freaking awesome.

 

Andrew’s Fajitas

2 pounds chicken breast, cut into thick strips
1 package soft flour tortillas
8 oz grated cheese (Monterey Jack or similar)

Marinade:
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon cumin
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons water juice of 1 large lime (or 2 small limes)

Mix marinade together. Soak raw meat in marinade for at least two hours. Grill meat to your liking, then cut into cubes and serve on a flour tortilla with grated cheese, guacamole and pico de gallo.

Guacamole:

1 avocado, mashed with a fork
¼ white onion, diced
1 small tomato, diced
10 pickled jalapeño slices, diced
2 teaspoons vinegar from thepickled jalapeño jar
1 handful cilantro leaves, chopped juice of ½ lime
salt and pepper to taste

Pico de Gallo:

1 large tomato, diced
½ white onion, diced
1 small fresh jalapeño, diced
1 handful cilantro leaves, chopped juice of ½ lime
½ teaspoon garlic powder

  • I like the Andrew’s cooking method and his recipe also amazing.. I feel the taste of his recipe till in my mouth.. Yummy..!!!
    Kitchen

  • I like the Andrew’s cooking method and his recipe also amazing.. I feel the taste of his recipe till in my mouth.. Yummy..!!!
    Kitchen

  • I like the Andrew’s cooking method and his recipe also amazing.. I feel the taste of his recipe till in my mouth.. Yummy..!!!
    Kitchen

  • I like the Andrew’s cooking method and his recipe also amazing.. I feel the taste of his recipe till in my mouth.. Yummy..!!!
    Kitchen

  • I like the Andrew’s cooking method and his recipe also amazing.. I feel the taste of his recipe till in my mouth.. Yummy..!!!
    Kitchen