Pork-Tastic!

I am going to offend both non-pork eaters and vegetarians in one whole entry. Here we go!

One thing I have found that really works well for my pouch are tacos. As long as they’re fairly simple– meat, eggs, cheese, veggies and the like, I can easily eat a whole taco for a meal (sometimes eating the insides out of the tortilla, and sometimes eating the tortilla with it, depending on how my pouch is feeling that day). When I’m at home, I make my own using low-carb (Mission Low Carb, in fact) tortillas. I have, though, found that since I live in a city that loves its breakfast tacos and Tex-Mex fare, I can easily find foods that will fit well into my still somewhat restricted diet.

Torchy’s Tacos is a unique Austin taco establishment which started out as a trailer and quickly became a small chain all around the Austin area. Torchy’s signature taco is their green chile pork taco, a taco made with slow-cooked pork carnitas and green chiles. Today, I attempted to re-create this magnificent dish with much success.

Now some people are scared of carnitas because of the fat content, but our local grocery store (HEB) carries “pork for carnitas” in cheap, easy to pick up vacuum packs at around $2 a lb. Pork for carnitas is sort of the cast-offs of the boston butt and picnic cuts of the pork, and is nothing to be scared of! You can easily trim the excess fat from the pieces to make a leaner dish.

Now with that said, here’s the recipe:

Erin’s Mock-Torchy’s Green Chile Pork Tacos

2lbs pork meat for carnitas OR pork shoulder
1 jar of green chile salsa (if you can’t find any, use 3 extra cans of green chiles)
1 onion, sliced thin
2 cloves of garlic
2 cans of roasted Hatch green chiles (found wherever the salsa and Tex-Mex foods are in your grocery section) — Hot or Mild, depending on your preferences
The juice of 4 limes, plus two limes for serving
1 tablespoon of Mexican Oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
Drizzle of olive oil
A large crock pot and a skillet

Heat a large skillet, but do NOT add oil. Place your pork in the skillet and brown, turning so each side gets color. You’re not cooking the pork, just giving it a nice sear for color and flavor. Sprinkle on your salt and pepper while browning. Once all sides have color, place the meat in the crock pot.

In the same skillet, add the oil, onions and garlic, and cook until everything is fragrant and translucent. You can also scrape down the browned bits (tasty!) of the pork at this time. Once cooked, pour onions and garlic on top of the pork.

Pour your salsa, chiles, oregano, and lime juice into the pot and stir. Cook on low for 5 hours. At this time, the pork should be just tender enough to shred. Take two forks, and in the crock pot, shred the pork. Stir the shredded pork with the juices and cook for another 1-2 hours on low. If there’s a LOT of juice in the pot, cook uncovered for the last 1-2 hours to boil down and concentrate the flavors.

Finish it off with the juice of another lime and taste for adjustments in salt and pepper.

Now you’re ready to serve– either over a bed of veggies, in a low-carb tortilla, or straight up! Tastes great with some extra lime and some crumbled queso fresco. Don’t forget to add some freshly chopped cilantro, too. Easy!

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4 responses to “Pork-Tastic!

  1. Ever since I tasted a Torchy’s green chile pork taco during my visit to Austin, TX (May of 2011), I’ve been craving the darn things. Thanks so much for posting this recipe. I’m going to give it a shot this weekend.

    Living in the frozen north (Michigan), we don’t often see fresh or canned Hatch chilies in our markets, but I did find some fresh ones last year – my hope is they will be available this year as well…if not, I reckon I could use Anaheim chiles (fresh/roatsed/peeled) – would you agree?

    Anyway, congratulations on your WLS progress and for providing this recipe. While I have not undergone WLS and am fortunate to be of average weight, I want to wish you nothing but good health in the future!!

    Best regards!

  2. Robert Hesmer

    You know its funny- you want to reproduce the flavor of torchy’s fantastic carnitas taco? Call your Sysco food rep and order a 6 unit 5 pound carnitas meat from Hormel. Yes. I said it. Sorry to disappoint but Torchy’s “signature taco” is nothing more than a mass produced, processed food item tht anyone with an account with Sysco can order. Want in on another secret? Their barbacoa meat, brisket and fajita meat all come pre-made and processed, straight from Sysco. Dont believe me? Just ask the management next time you go to Torchy’s. If they tell you the meat is made at a commissary, ask them which one (Sysco).

    Torchy’s barbacoa- Laxson’s brand barbacoa, pre-packaged, frozen
    Torchy’s brisket- Austin Blues hickory brisket, pre-packaged, frozen
    Torchy’s carnitas- Hormel H-style carnitas in bag, pre- packaged, frozen

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