Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cafe Rio Pulled Pork

This is the real deal. No joke, folks. I have tried, and tried, and TRIED to duplicate the famed Cafe Rio Pulled pork. (If you have never had this pork, you will not regret re-creating it at home. Give it a shot!) I can’t tell you how many recipes have gone in, and out, of my kitchen. They all claimed they were the Cafe Rio Pork recipe, but they weren’t! I had a commenter on my blog give me this recipe, and guess what? THIS IS IT. My hubby took one bite and exclaimed, “THIS IS INCREDIBLE”. It tastes just like Cafe Rio Pulled Pork. Heaven on Earth. I can finally have my #1 craving whenever I want, even if I am in Nebraska! We are having it again tomorrow. And probably next week! SOOO good! This spicy cilantro ranch dressing is delish. I will never change from this recipe, it is right on! I know it looks like a lot of work, but it really isn’t that hard. Please try it. You will L-O-V-E me, and everyone you  feed it to will L-O-V-E you!

Copy Cat Cafe Rio Pulled Pork Salad
Printable Version

Pulled Pork
3-4 lb. Pork Butt or Shoulder Roast
2 small cans El Pato Tomato sauce (found in the mexican aisle, this is a key ingredient)
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
2 1/2 cups brown sugar

Wrap pork completely with foil, place in crock pot and pour ½ cup water around roast. Cook for 8 hours on low. (YES, 8 hours! The longer you cook a pork roast, the easier it is to shred, the more tender it is, the more delicious it is. 8 hours is key!) Remove roast, drain juices, remove fat and shred. Dump the tomato sauces and brown sugar into the crockpot, stir together and add shredded pork back in. Cook two additional hours on low.

Cilantro Lime Rice
2 cups white rice
4 cups chicken broth
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
½ tsp. salt
2 limes, juiced
1 Tbs. butter

Combine rice, chicken broth, cilantro, salt and the juice from 1 lime in a rice cooker or saucepan. Cook according to package directions. When rice is cooked, juice the additional lime and add in butter. Stir to incorporate.

Spicy Cilantro Ranch Dressing
1 envelope Buttermilk ranch dressing
1 cup milk
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 bunch cilantro,
2 large tomatillos, or 4 small, chopped
2 serrano peppers with seeds removed and chopped

Puree the above ingredients in a blender or food processor and refrigerate to thicken.

Additional ingredients
8 Tortillas, preferably homemade or uncooked tortillas for authentic flavor
1 cup colby jack cheese
crisp lettuce, shredded or finely chooped
1 can black beans, warmed
Tortilla strips

To assemble:
Cook tortillas and melt ⅛ cup cheese on one side, leave open faced on plate. Top with lettuce, rice, pork, black beans, salsa, tortilla strips, and Spicy Cilantro Ranch Dressing.

Recipe adapted and added to from
Serves 8.


Ally said...

I make one that I think is pretty close, but it needs some work :) I will have to try this one. How do you like the ranch dressing. I haven't ever had luck and fallen in love with one I've tried. Do you always make a new dressing every time you make a new recipe?

Chelsea and Cody said...

Ally...! Definitely try this! It is seriously perfect, perfect! I was in shock the entire time we were eating it. The ranch dressing is the best one I have tried. It is super close to the original, but I actually like my recipe for dressing better! You gotta make it...soon!

Aussiemuminthekitchen said...

I made a version I found online of this today claiming to be the real deal and I was dissapointed. I'll have to give you pr version a try. The version I tried was allot more work too. Brining in coke, draining, cooking, draining, cooking again. I was so bummed when we sat down and I wasnt right :(

Julie said...

This sounds amazing! I'm not sure what Cafe Rio pork is, but I'd love to try this.

Melinda said...

What brand of tomato sauce did you use for the 15 oz size. Was that El Pato too?

The Nielsens said...

Thanks so much for this recipe! Living in Atlanta now, I SO miss Cafe Rio! I did alter a couple of things after following the recipe exactly the first time around. Instead of using a butt or shoulder, which have so much bone and fat to deal with, I switched to a 2-lb. tenderloin the second time around, and it was SO much easier to shred, and I got so much more meat. I lowered the cooking time to 5-6 hours on low. Didn't have to alter the sauce at all with the meat change - there was plenty. Also, in the rice recipe, I omitted the second lime. With the juice of one lime, the rice has a nice complex flavor and you can taste all the ingredients, but I found that the juice of the second lime just made it taste completely like lime and nothing else. Finally, I added pico de gallo and guac to the list of additional ingredients. Cafe Rio always has both of those, and the salad really needs the acidic counterbalance from the pico, in particular. Just made my own with diced tomatoes, diced red onion, chopped cilantro, lime juice, and salt. The El Pato sauce can be hard to find out east (I picked up a few cans on a trip to CA), but you can order it on Amazon. Thanks again for the awesome recipe, and for bringing Cafe Rio back into my culinary life! :-)