Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cafe Rio Salad

My friend made this awesome salad (really a main dish) for a baby shower/dinner. It was SO good that I had to request the recipe to share. Most of you have had this before, since I've heard a lot of talk about Cafe Rio, but here is the recipe for the meat, the pico de gallo, and the dressing.

*Total Prep-Time: 18 hours, technically. But most of that is just waiting for the pork to cook. I’d say active cook time for the entire meal was perhaps an hour, maybe 1 hour 15 mins. Lots of this meal (dressing, pico) can be made before-hand and kept in the fridge until it’s time to eat.
* Was the recipe easy to follow: Extremely easy. It’s mostly chop, dump and marinate. Easy-peasy.
* Are the ingredients easy to find: It took me a bit of searching in the Mexican Food section to find Chipotle Chilies in Adobo Sauce, and also a bit of googling to figure out what, exactly, a tomatillo looked like. But I found everything at my grocery store.
* Do you need special equipment: Large-ish crock pot and a blender. A food processor would make quick work of the pico, although I chopped mine by hand.
* Does the end result taste delicious: YES! Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. This was the best meal I have ever made, hands down, no questions. And there were enough leftovers for my neighbors, and my roommate, and a couple of meals for me. This makes a ton of food, but it will be eaten quickly. Try it, taste it, and you’ll understand why.

Cafe Rio Pork Barbacoa

5-6 lb. pork roast

21 oz. Dr. Pepper (or Coke, do NOT use diet soda)
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
7 oz. can chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
6-ish oz. red taco sauce (I used hot)
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Place roast in crock-pot, cover half-way with water and cook on low for 12 hours. (I started my Pork Adventure at midnight and everything worked out perfectly for Sunday dinner at 6:00 pm.) After 12 hours, drain pork (retain liquid if you want sauce for burritos, simply mix with a can of verde enchilada sauce and away you go).

Mix remaining ingredients until sugar dissolves. I didn’t keep the actual chilies, I dumped the can into a bowl and added enough Dr. Pepper to get all the sauce off of the chilies, then I tossed them. I also rinsed out the can with Dr. Pepper for more adobo goodness. My version had a fairly good kick to it, but if you LOVE hotness, then blend everything + 2 or 3 chilies in the blender. (Also, the adobo sauce tends to stain plastic, using a glass or metal mixing bowl will make your clean-up of adobo sauce considerably less frustrating).

Add Dr. Pepper mixture to the roast and cook on low an additional 4 hours.

Take out roast and shred, add back into sauce and cook for 2 more hours. At this point the meat was so tender it practically shredded itself.
Café Rio Salad
1 bottle (16. oz) Kraft Zesty Italian dressing
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 lbs. chicken breasts
Mix ingredients and pour over chicken breasts in a crockpot. Cook on low for 4 hours. Shred
the chicken and cook 1 more hour to soak up the juices. Serve with a slotted spoon.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Easy Pico-de-Gallo

3 tomatoes, diced
1/2 bunch of cilantro, minced
1/2 sweet onion, minced
1 section of green pepper, minced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
about 1/3-1/2 cup vinegar (use your best judgement)
salt and pepper

Mix it up really well and refrigerate. I put my pico in a Tupperware and shook it up really well right before serving to re-mix.


2 tomatillos, peeled and chopped
½ bunch cilantro
1 garlic clove
1 lime, juiced
1 jalepeño , limit seeds to reduce how “spicy” you want it
1 8-oz. pkg buttermilk ranch dressing (regular ranch works too)
Blend in food processor: tomatillos, cilantro, garlic, lime and jalapeno. Make dressing according
to the directions on the package (but use less milk than requested). Then add the blended
ingredients and chill. The longer it sits the better.

4 cups water
4 tsp. chicken boullion
4 tsp. garlic, minced
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
1 can green chilis, undrained
¾ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. butter
½ onion, chopped
2 cups rice
While bringing water to a boil, combine in a food processor: cilantro, green chilis & onion. Add
all ingredients to boiling water. Cover and cook for 20 min at a simmer.

-tortilla sprinkled with cheese (slightly crisp in a frying pan)
-shredded chicken
-black beans, rinsed and drained
-romaine lettuce, chopped
-tomatoes, chopped
-avocado, chopped
-fresh lime squeezed over top, quartered
-top with Fiesta tortilla strips (optional)
***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Now, invite some people over and get cooking!

1 comment:

Kelsey said...

I just recently learned what a tomatillo was too! I made a green sauce with them for enchiladas. I've yet to eat at a cafe rio but have heard lots of good things about them. I'll def. have to try this out sometime! Thanks for sharing all the details on making it!