Friday, June 14, 2013

Mock Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Salads

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Salad - photo from
While Chelsea was visiting I volunteered to serve lunch to the elementary staff I have been working at the past year (with her help of course).  Both Chelsea and Melanie spent time helping with food and especially cookies while I was working.  The staff enjoyed it and several asked for a recipe, so here it is.  I combined from a few different sites, for what I liked best.

For an authentic Mock Cafe Rio Salad layer as follows:
Large Tortillas with melted shredded cheese
Black Beans
Sweet Pork
Romaine Lettuce
Pico de gallo (just combine diced tomato, onion, and cilantro)
Sour Cream
Tortilla Strips (deep fry strips of corn tortillas) or crushed chips
Creamy Tomatillo Ranch

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Salad - photo from

Shredded Sweet Pork  Salad with Rice and Beans


(Sometimes when I don't want to take the trouble to do this first part, I just slow cook the roast, shred and then add the sauce for the sweetness - it's not as marinated, but it still tastes good.  We often use it for Sweet Pork Quesadillas (see note below).

3-5 lb pork roast
1 c brown sugar
1 c Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tb dried minced onions
Cook all ingredients in a crock pot on low all day (abt 8 hours). One hour before serving, remove roast and shred it. Dump out all cooking juices and place shredded pork back into crockpot and add...

 1 c brown sugar
1 c red enchilada sauce
Serve in Salad, burritos, or quesadillas.

Here's an alternative recipe that I tried, but didn't think it was as flavorful -

  • 2-3 lbs. boneless pork (carnitas, shoulder etc)
  • 1 12 ox. can Coke
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 10 oz. can enchilada sauce
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 small can diced green chilis
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • Marinade pork for at least 2 hours or overnight in can of coke and 1/4 C brown sugar.
  • Pour pork and liquid into crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
  • Remove meat and shred. Discard liquid
  • Put meat back in crock pot and add enchilada sauce, garlic, green chilies and brown sugar.
  • Cook for 30-60 more minutes. If there is excess liquid drain some off.

Creamy Tomatillo Dressing

1 package of Hidden Valley buttermilk Ranch Dressing. (prepare according to directions)
2 tomatillos (they look like green tomatoes, but they are NOT!  You may substitute 3 Tbsp of prepared salsa verde)
cilantro (1/4 bunch)
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup lime juice
1/8 tsp. Tabasco
Combine all together in blender and let thicken.

 Place all ingredients in food processor or blender and mix well. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.


Cilantro Lime Rice

2 c water
1 c. uncooked rice (long-grain, white rice)
2 cubes chicken bouillon
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 Tb canola oil
2 Tb fresh lime juice
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1/2 onion
1/2 can green chilies
2 tsp. sugar
3 Tbl fresh chopped cilantro

In a saucepan combine oil, garlic, 1 Tbl. lime, chicken bouillon and water. Blend cilantro, onion, and chilies in food processor. Combine all with rice and Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes, until rice is tender. (I combine with rice and put in my rice cooker.) When rice is cooked;iIn a small bowl combine 1 Tbl. lime juice, sugar and cilantro. Pour over hot cooked rice and mix in as you fluff the rice.

Garlic Black Beans

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 c tomato juice
2 cloves garlic, minced (1 tsp)
1 tsp cumin
2 Tb canola oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tb chopped cilantro
 Heat oil then add cumin and garlic until garlic begins to pop. Add rest of ingredients and serve warm.

** Sweet Pork Quesadilla from Costa Vida is actually what convinced me to search for and make my own sweet pork recipe.  My boys are not big on salads, so we often make quesadillas instead.  I cook a pork roast for sunday dinner and then with the leftover roast I add equal amounts of red enchilada sauce and brown sugar.  Broil a tortilla topped with cheddar cheese.  Top with warm meet, fold in half, and top with sour cream and pico de gallo.  Delicious!
Sweet Pork Quesadilla - photo from

**The meat freezes well.   Make a large roast and divide into smaller portions and freeze.  Makes dinner easy. 

Cookies for Dessert - Chocolate Toffee Sugar Cookies
 Recipe can be found at Our Best Bites.


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