Ralphie’s Special Tacos

  • Serves

    serves 4


These tacos are named for the late, great Raphaela (Ralphie) Pazos, a longtime cook at San Antonio's Taco Haven.


  • 1 (3 1⁄2-4-lb.) chicken
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 14 head cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
  • 14 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 8 homemade or store-bought <a href="">Corn/ Tortillas</a>
  • 1 tomato, cored, halved, and sliced


Step 1

Simmer chicken in a medium pot of water over medium heat, skimming any foam as it rises to the surface, until cooked through, 45-50 minutes.

Step 2

Meanwhile, squeeze juice from 2 of the lemon halves into a medium bowl. Add cabbage, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste and toss well. Cover and set aside until cabbage is wilted, about 1 hour. Slice the remaining 2 lemon halves and set aside.

Step 3

Transfer chicken to a large bowl (saving broth for another use) and set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove chicken meat from carcass, discarding skin and bones. Using your fingers, shred chicken into medium pieces and set aside.

Step 4

Heat 3 tbsp. of the oil in a large cast-iron or other heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until well browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a warm plate and set aside.

Step 5

Wipe skillet clean with paper towels. Heat the remaining 3 tbsp. oil in the skillet over medium heat. Fry 2 tortillas at a time until blistered all over yet still soft and pliable, about 1 minute. Using a pair of metal tongs, transfer tortillas to a warm plate and loosely fold them in half. Repeat process with the remaining tortillas.

Step 6

To serve, stuff each tortilla with some of the chicken, then some of the cabbage. Garnish each tortilla with a slice each of tomato and lemon.

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