Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

Adapted through trial and error from Cafe Rio

Living in Finland, we are pretty hard pressed to find good Mexican food. There are some restaurants that make a stab at it, but it's just not the same. The best way to truly recreate it is to make it ourselves. The Tex-Mex style dish I crave the most is the Sweet Pork Salad from Cafe Rio in my native Utah. There for only 7 bucks you can get a huge delicious meal that will haunt your dreams.

Cafe Rio Style Sweet Pork
4 lbs pork loin
1 liter Coke (not diet)
1/2 cup Brown sugar
1 can (7 oz) green chilies or 3-4 fresh chilies, minced
3-4 cloves minced garlic
1-2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground mustard
salt to taste

Marinate the pork in a heavy duty Ziploc back with 1 1/2 cup Coke and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Marinate for a few hours to over night.

Put marinade and pork in a crock pot (or in a large pot on the stove). Add the rest of the brown sugar, chilies, garlic, cumin, and mustard, plus enough Coke to cover most of the meat. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 8 hours. We usually start it late at night and it is done by the next morning. The pork should be tender and shred easily. Check on it every once in a while to make sure there is enough juice (you don't want it to get too dry).

Cafe Rio Style Cilantro-Lime Rice
1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
1 tsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp + 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime, plus the grated rind
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tsp sugar
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro

In a saucepan, combine rice, butter, garlic, 1 tsp lime, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and cook on low for 15-20 minutes or until the rice is tender. In the meantime combine 1 Tbsp lime juice plus the rind, sugar and cilantro. Once the rice is done, mix the two together

Cafe Rio Style Black Beans
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/3 c tomato juice
1 /12 tsp salt
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro

Pico de Gallo
6 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup fresh Cilantro, chopped
2-3 fresh jalapeño, seeded and minced *optional
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
salt to taste

Cafe Rio Cilantro Ranch:
1 packet Traditional Hidden Valley Ranch mix
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup buttermilk
2 tomatillos, husks removed
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic
juice of 1 lime
1 jalepeño

or you can use my personal favorite dressing,

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Enjoy!

Also needed:
lettuce (Romaine or other leafy green, not iceburg)
guacamole (optional)
sour cream (optional)
Parmesan cheese
large tortillas

Ok, I know this looks like a huge ordeal. But it is definitely worth the effort.
You will have to start the day before to get the meat going (although in a pinch, you could probably do it in 4-5 hours). Then prepare the rice, beans and pico de gallo as directed.

When you are ready to eat, start with the tortilla. Warm it gently on the stove, then put it on a plate and add a scoop of warmed rice and beans, and a generous helping of pork (also warmed up). Add the lettuce, pico de gallo, a small scoop of guacamole and sour cream and a sprinkling of Parmesan. Serve the dressing of your choice on the side. Eat, and repeat.

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