Diary of a Foodie

Monday, June 30, 2014

Cafe Rio Style Pork Salad

There is a local restaurant chain that is always busy and everyone loves it. I don't know one person who doesn't eat there regularly. One of their staple items is a Pork Salad-shredded juicy, sweet and spicy pork, layered on top of a homemade tortilla, cilantro lime rice, beans, and then topped with romaine lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole and crispy tortilla strips. Served along side is a creamy tomatillo dressing. Insert drool here.

It is amazing and most home cooks have attempted to recreate this at home. I have tried it several times and this is pretty close. It's great to make for a crowd.

Café Rio Style Pork Salad

2-3 lb, bone-in pork roast
1 can red enchilada sauce
1 can diced green chiles
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c brown sugar
1 c Dr. Pepper (or Coke) DO NOT USE DIET
1 tsp ground cumin
1 TBSP Kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

Season the pork roast with cumin, salt and pepper and place it in a slow cooker. Top it with enchilada sauce, green chiles, garlic, brown sugar and Dr. Pepper. Cook on high for 4-6 hours, or on low, 6-8 hours. Once pork is cooked through and fork tender, remove it from the slow cooker and cover it with foil, allowing it to rest for 15 minutes. Remove half of the liquid from the slow cooker and discard. Once meat has rested, remove the bone,  shred the pork into bite size pieces and place back into the cooking liquid. Let the meat hang out while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.

Creamy Tomatillo Dressing

 4 tomatillos
1 packet dry Ranch dressing mix
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise made with olive oil (this reduces the fat)
1/2 c plain, fat free Greek yogurt (adds the creaminess, none of the fat)
1/4 c cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1 jalepeno, seeded (DO NOT ADD ALL AT ONCE)

In a blender, add all the ingredients EXCEPT for the jalepeno. Mix until blended well, about 2 minutes. Add 1/4 of the seeded jalepeno and blend again for 30 seconds. Taste at this point to test the heat level. If you like the amount of heat, stop now. If too weak, add another 1/4 of the jalepeno and blend again. Taste again. Add jalepeno until it reaches your desired heat level. Set aside for assembly of salad.

Cilantro Lime Rice

2 cups white rice, cooked
2 TBSP cilantro, minced
juice and zest of two limes

Once rice is cooked according to package instructions, add the cilantro and lime juice and zest. Stir together and set aside for assembly.

Black Beans

2 cans black beans, drained
1/4 onion, minced
1/2 tsp cumin

In a sauce pan, heat all ingredients and allow to cook for 10 minutes.

Pico de Gallo

2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 TBSP cilantro, minced
1 TBSP onion, diced

Mix together all ingredients and set aside.

Salad ingredients

2 heads Romaine lettuce, chopped
8-12 flour tortillas, warmed
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Tortilla Strips (found by croutons in grocery store)


Take a warmed tortilla and sprinkle with cheese, as much or little as you would like. Top with rice, beans, then shredded pork. Top the pork with lettuce, guacamole, pico de gallo, then tortilla strips. Serve with creamy tomatillo dressing.

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