Sunday, April 22, 2012

simplified cafe rio salad (sweet pork)

We used to live in Utah and we always ate at Cafe Rio. So when we moved to San Jose, I was a bit sad that I didn't see any cafe rios around. But when I found the recipe online, I was very excited and happy! But to make it as one of daily meals... it takes too much time. So I simplified it so it still tastes good, but with less effort on our part! But if you have time and want to try to make the 'more real' one, go to: Cafe Rio Salad is an awesome website -- lots of great recipes! 


[Sweet pork]

Pork (loins, ribs without bones, or any cut you prefer) - 2 lbs
Coke - 1 bottle (67 fl oz)
Enchilada sauce - 1 can (10 oz)
Green chilis - 1 small can
water - 1/4 cup 
Brown sugar - ~2 cups
Garlic salt - 1 tsp


Tomatoes - 3 med
Onion - 1 small
Cilantro - few bunch (chopped) 
Jalapeno - 2 small
Mango - 1 med
Lemon juice - 1 bottle (buy & keep in the fridge - it comes in handy in many dishes!)
Seasoned salt/regular salt


3 cups cooked rice
Cilantro - few bunch (however much you like)
Lemon juice - however much you like
Garlic salt - however salty you like it to taste

[Beans & corn]

Black beans - 1 can
Sweet corn - 1 can


Ranch dressing mix - 1 packet
Buttermilk - 1 cup
Mayonnaise - 1 cup
Cilantro - few bunch
Jalapeno - 1 small
(Tomatillos - small green tomatoes - 2, optional - it still tastes good without it)
Garlic - 1 clove

[Other ingredients] 

Romaine lettuce - more for salad,
Mexican blend cheese - 1 pkg
Tortilla (we love Trader Joe's flour tortillas. They are soft and chewy!)


Sour cream
Guacamole (sorry, we are not a big fan of guacamole, but you can definitely add!) 


  1. Marinade Pork in 1/3 bottle of coke, 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1 tsp of salt. Let it sit in the fridge for few hours (5-6 hours) or overnight.
  2. Salsa - mix all ingredients in a blender or chop all by hands :)
  3. Dressing - Mix all in a blender


  1. Pork - Drain the marinade, put pork, water and enough coke to cover half of the pork. Slow cook for 4 hours on high. After it's done, take out the pork, drain the liquid left in the slow cooker. Shred the meat using two forks. Put back into the slow cooker. In separate container, mix enchilada sauce, green chilies, 1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar and enough coke to make the mixture not too thick (about 1 cup).  Mix together and add to the meat in a slow cooker. Cook it for another 2 hours on high.
  2. Cut lettuce into bite size pieces
  3. Combine beans and corn in a bowl 
  4. Cook rice. Add lemon juice (about 1/4 cup), garlic salt and chopped cilantro. Mix well and let it dry out a little (keep the rice cooker open or the lid open for 5-10 minutes) 


  1. Sprinkle cheese (however much you want) on the tortilla and microwave for 30 seconds. 
  2. Add all the ingredients. Make sure you have (I tend to take out some items...):
        1. Tortilla with melted cheese
        2. Sweet pork
        3. Salsa
        4. Beans & Corn
        5. Dressing
        6. Rice
        7. [optional items] more cheese, sour cream, guacamole
  3. It make about 6 good size salads/burritos. 


  • Keep pork, salsa and dressing in the fridge until it's ready to serve - it tastes better overnight.
  • Total amount of time you need for pork to be done (not including the marinade time) is 6 hours and 30 minutes in a slow cooker, so plan ahead!
  • Sweet pork tastes really good after a day or two, so you can make it in advance, too.   
  • If you don't have time for salsa, just combine tomatoes, onions and cilantro. 

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