Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Recipe: Cafe Rio Salad

The first time we ate at Cafe Rio, Mike's parents took us a few months after we had moved to Las Vegas, while they were visiting. It was pretty good, but I didn't see what all the hype was about.

Later that year Mike went on a business trip to Utah. He went with a couple of locals to Cafe Rio, where they told him what the problem was with his last visit:

He didn't order the Pork Barbacoa salad.

Mike fell in love.

I'm not sure whether his finding out about the deliciousness of the Cafe Rio Pork Barbacoa salad is a good thing. Or a bad thing.

Either way, we've tried many a time to re-create it at home, using various recipes.

The original consists of a tortilla with melted cheese in a pie pan. It's filled with lime-cilantro rice, beans, and pork barbacoa. It's topped with romaine lettuce, guacamole, pico de gallo, fried tortilla strips, cilantro, and cojita cheese.

And then there's a magical dressing that goes on top.

Here is our absolute favorite version, that I insisted Mike make me for Mother's Day. We don't bother with the rice. Or the homemade pico de gallo, fried tortilla strips, and cojita cheese.

Because, well, we're lazy like that. However, if you're having a party or a family get-together, and everyone brings a part of it, it's easy-peasy.

All of these recipes are adapted from Erica's at Favorite Family Recipes, and of all the many recipes we've tried, they are the closest to the original and the most delicious (in our opinion). Check out her site for the how-to on the rice, guacamole, and everything else. She rocks. Enjoy!

Cafe Rio Pork Barbacoa Salad

Pork Barbacoa

2 pounds pork loin
3 cans Coke (NOT diet)
1/4 c. brown sugar
dash garlic salt
1/4 c. water
1 can diced green chilies
3/4 (10oz) can red enchilada sauce
1 c. brown sugar

Put the pork in a heavy duty ziploc bag to marinade. Add about a can and a half of coke and about 1/4 c. of brown sugar. Marinade for a few hours or overnight.

Drain marinade and put pork, 1/2 can of coke, water, and garlic salt in crock pot on high for about 3-4 hours (or until it shreds easily, but don't let it get TOO dry) or on low for 8 hours. Remove pork from crock pot and drain any liquid left in the pot. Shred pork.

In a food processor or blender, blend 1/2 can Coke, chilies, enchilada sauce and remaining brown sugar (about a cup, you can add a little more or less to taste..). If it looks too thick, add more Coke little by little.

Put shredded pork and sauce in crockpot and cook on low for 2 hours.

Black Beans

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/3 c. tomato juice
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro

In a nonstick skillet, cook garlic and cumin in olive oil over medium heat until you can smell it. Add beans, tomato juice, and salt. Continually stir until heated through. Just before serving stir in the cilantro.

Cilantro Ranch Dressing

1 packet TRADITIONAL Hidden Valley Ranch mix (not BUTTERMILK)
1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. buttermilk
1 tomatillo, remove husk, quartered
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic
juice of 1 lime
1 jalepeno (seeds removed)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together in the blender.

Layer a tortilla (the un-cooked ones at Sam's Club/Costco are the best) with melted cheese, then the beans, meat, lettuce, toppings, and dressing. Just like Cafe Rio does in a pie pan or a bowl. Enjoy it until you're stuffed. Then declare me your bestest friend ever for sharing the recipe with you.

1 comment:

Kristi said...

Mike and I had this for Mother's Day too...sort of. The YW in our ward did a Mother's Day dinner for us, and this is what they made. It was very yummy.