Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pork Salad - Cafe Rio Style

I served up these salads at Mady's first birthday party, for the adults of course. They were a big hit! A little something different from typical party food, and a good idea for a crowd, because you just prep all the ingredients and everyone can put theirs together how they want.

In searching for a recipe, I found that there are sooo many copy-cat recipes out there for these salads! Not surprising, considering most anyone who has spent anytime in Utah is obsessed with Cafe Rio. A lot of the recipes I found were pretty similar, and of course all claimed to be "oh so close!" to the real thing. I must admit, however, that I've never actually had a pork salad from Cafe Rio though...I'm a "vegetarian burrito, black beans, hot sauce, enchilada style" kind of girl.

The recipe I went with came from the blog Favorite Family Recipes. The cooking of the pork was a bit more involved than most other recipes I found, but that's actually what pulled me towards this one. All that marinating/cooking time = has to be good, right?

Now, as I mentioned I've never had a Cafe Rio pork salad (although I have tried the pork and the yummy tomatillo ranch dressing), so I can't speak as to how close to the "real thing" this is. What I can say is that everyone LOVED these salads - they were delicious! They are a bit time-consuming to prep everything, but luckily I was able to do a lot of it ahead of time, and then for the party we just laid all the ingredients out buffet-style and let everyone have at it.

I'll post the recipes as they are listed on Favorite Family Recipes, and you can also visit the link to see more info and commentary. Oh, and if you are going to make these (you are going to make them, right?), don't forget the aluminum pans - those are a must for authenticity :)

Cafe Rio-style Pork Salads

6 large Tortillas (the uncooked flour tortillas from Costco are the best!)
Shredded cheese, Mexican blend
Cafe Rio Rice - recipe follows
Cafe Rio Black Beans - recipe follows
Cafe Rio Sweet Pork - recipe follows
Lettuce (NOT iceberg, use leafy green or Romaine)
Diced tomato, onion, and cilantro (pico de gallo)
Sour cream
Tortilla Strips
Cotija cheese, crumbled (or you can use Parmesan)
Cafe Rio Tomatillo Ranch - recipe follows

To assemble: Lay a tortilla in the bottom of the pan (if you are using the uncooked tortillas, you need to heat them up first - about 30 seconds per side, just so they are cooked through), sprinkle cheese on it, and put in the oven at 375 for about 5 min or until the cheese is melted. Remove from oven, add beans, rice, pork, then lettuce and a little scoop of pico de gallo). Add guacamole and sour cream. Add crushed tortilla chips, a shake of Parmesan cheese, and top with a few cilantro leaves. Serve with the tomatillo ranch.

2 pounds pork (i.e. boneless pork ribs)
3 cans Coke (NOT diet)
1/4 c. brown sugar
dash garlic salt
1/4 c. water
1 can diced green chilies
3/4 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). 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 crock pot and cook on low for 2 hours.

1 c. uncooked rice
1 tsp. butter or margarine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 can (15 oz) chicken broth
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tsp. sugar
3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

In a saucepan combine rice, butter, garlic, 1 tsp. lime, chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes, until rice is tender. Remove from heat. In a small bowl combine lime juice, sugar and cilantro. Pour over hot cooked rice and mix in as you fluff the rice.

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.

1 packet TRADITIONAL Hidden Valley Ranch mix (Not buttermilk)
1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. buttermilk
2 tomatillos, remove husk, diced (I used canned ones)
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic
juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno (remove seeds, if desired)

Mix all ingredients together in the blender. Yum!

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