Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cafe Rio! (or one heavenly evening of delightful eating!)

Anyone who has eaten at Cafe Rio in the west know what I mean. So delicious. This is my interpretation of a Cafe Rio Pork Salad, and I must say - it is delightful. Cafe Rio Salads come in a tin pan - I used a pie plate, but you can use a large serving bowl if you wish.

(In some cases I merged recipes I found on the web and in some cases it might be identical. Sorry I don't give anyone credit, but it's a compilation of my google skills and cooking and tasting experimentation!)

Here are your layers (recipes follow):
Tortillas (warm these - I put the tortilla on the plate, sprinkled the cheese on and popped it in the oven that was warm from making the little Tortilla Strips
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Beans - dice onions and soften with some minced garlic in olive oil, add black or pinto beans, cumin, garlic salt, chopped cilantro etc. - doctor them up! or buy black beans that are already seasoned!
Cilantro Rice
Pork Barbacoa
Romaine Lettuce - shredded or broken into bite size pieces
Pico de Gallo - of course use Larish's amazing recipe for Salsa
Guacamole - the stuff you get sealed in a bag is amazing but it is so easy to make your own!
Tortilla Strips
- slice a corn tortilla into narrow strips - I used my trusty pizza cutter! Put on a baking sheet, lightly toss with olive oil - spread out, add salt and pepper and bake for 20 minutes or so at 350-375 degrees. Amazing! Toss them around 15 minutes (they will still be soft) and it will give them some interesting shapes instead of just straight sticks!
Tomatillo Dressing

Cilantro Rice
4 cups water
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 bunch chopped cilantro
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 can (4 oz) green chilis
4 tsp. chicken bouillon
1 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. lime juice
Zest of 1 lime
3 cups of long grain rice

Add all to a pot, bring to a boil, stir and cook covered for 30 minutes. I like to cook rice in pot with glass lid so I can keep an eye on it - rice will form air pockets on the surface and you can tell when it has absorbed all the water and is done.

"Cafe Rio" Pork Barbacoa

~WARNING~ it takes two days to prepare this pork!

5-6 lb. pork roast (I used a pork loin roast)
21 oz. Dr. Pepper (not diet - you can use coke)
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
7 oz. can chiptole chilis in adobo sauce
8 oz. red taco sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Put pork roast in crock pot and pour in water to half way cover the pork. Put on low and walk away for TWELVE HOURS. Yes, 12 hours. (I do this overnight)

Use a metal mixing bowl for the next step. Put the can of chilies into the bowl and add some Dr. Pepper. Pour some more of the Dr. Pepper into the can to get every last luscious bit of that adobo sauce, and put that into the bowl. Basically, you are rinsing off the Chili Peppers from the adobo, and you want to remove them and throw them away, or you will have to have the fire department in attendance cause they are HOT. Mix remaining ingredients into the bowl until sugar dissolves.

After 12 hours, drain pork.

Add above mixture to the pork in the crock pot, and continue to cook on low for 4 more hours.

After 4 hours, shred that pork, stir in the sauce, and cook for 2 more hours. The pork will basically shred itself it is so tender.

So - cooking time is 12 hours, + 4 hours, + 2 hours for a grand total of 18 hours!

So heavenly!
Creamy Tomatillo Dressing

1 pkg Ranch Dressing mix
3 tomatillos, chopped
(up to) cup mayo ( I like less mayo 1/2 cup in mine but you might like it full strength)
1 cup milk (again I prefer 1/2 cup milk)
1 cup chopped cilantro
3 cloves garlic, minced
Juice from 1 lime

Mix this up in a blender and be sure to store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will be good for 4 weeks, but if the lid is off your milk will taste like cilantro!

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