Friday, December 10, 2010

Cafe Río-style Sweet Pork Salad

For all you Cafe Río fans out there, here is a copycat recipe for their ever-popular Sweet Pork Barbacoa Salad. We thought this meal was excellent, so flavorful and satisfying. It can be adjusted to suit your tastes, but below is the basic recipe.

Some elements of this meal have been adapted from a recipe found on Favorite Family Recipes and the pork recipe I got from my sister-in-law Katie.

I was just asked how many servings this makes and I would say 4-6. There is enough pork and salad dressing for 6 generous salads, but if you like a lot of rice and beans, you may want to double the rice recipe and use two cans of black beans. Just go by how your family usually eats. Have fun!

Cafe Río-style Sweet Pork Salad

printable recipe 

The first step is to make the pork, start it about 5-6 hours before you would like to serve dinner.

Crockpot Sweet Pork
 3-4 lbs pork (I use 4 bone-in pork chops)
garlic salt
1 can Coke or Dr. Pepper (not diet) 
16 oz. salsa
4 oz can green chilies
1 Tbsp taco seasoning
1 Tbsp cumin
1 cup brown sugar

Sprinkle pork with garlic salt (if using a pork roast, cut into fist sized chunks, pork chops can be left whole) and place in crock pot.

Pour in 1 cup of water and can of soda. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours or until it can be shredded easily.

Remove bones and shred pork.

Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook for another hour.

Cilantro-Lime Rice
1 cup uncooked rice
1 tsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp lime juice
2 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp fresh chopped cilantro

In a saucepan combine rice, butter, garlic, and chicken stock. 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 into rice.

As the rice cooks, prepare dressing:

Cilantro Ranch

1 packet Traditional Hidden Valley Ranch mix (not buttermilk)
1 cup mayo
1 cup buttermilk
2 tomatillos, remove husk, diced
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic
juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeño, seeded

Mix all ingredients together in the blender.

Heat tortillas (1 tortilla per salad) with monterey jack and cheddar sprinkled on them in oven at 350F for about 5 minutes, until cheese melts.

Top with warmed black beans then Cilantro-Lime Rice.

Add pork (use a slotted spoon to remove from crock pot).

Add lettuce, salsa or pico de gallo, sour cream and/or guacamole, dressing and (optional) garnish: crushed tortilla chips, a shake of Parmesan cheese, and cilantro. We had to add our new favorite condiment: Chipotle Tabasco sauce. This stuff is seriously addicting! 

Enjoy your salad, Cafe Río in the comfort of your own home!

This recipe is featured in Meal Plan: December 6-12.


  1. How many servings does this recipe make? :) This is Tiffany McEwen, by the way. Amber must be signed into something because this is using her profile to post this comment.

  2. Hi Tiffany! It really depends on how generous you are with your portions, but I would say about 4-6 salads. If you like lots of rice and beans, then double the rice recipe and use two cans of beans, but there is enough pork there for 6 generous salads.