There are only so many lunch options in our small town, but one of our favorite choices is Cafe Rio. (If you’ve never heard of Cafe Rio, it’s a fast casual Mexican place, not unlike Chipotle.) More often than not, most of us will end up ordering one of their salads, which my oldest son refers to as “meat salads.”
It’s a pretty fitting name, considering these salads are more like a deconstructed burrito with lettuce and dressing. But regardless of what they should be called, the most important thing is that they are delicious! Today I’m sharing a few recipes that will get you started on assembling the best “meat salad” you’ve ever tasted. :-)
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Slow Cooker Sweet Pork
- 2 pounds pork butt/shoulder
- (2) 12oz cans Coca Cola (NOT diet)
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ tsp garlic salt
- ¼ cup water
- (1) 4oz can diced green chiles
- 10 oz enchilada sauce
- 1 cup brown sugar
Put the pork in a resealable bag, and pour in one of the cans of Coke along with the ½ cup brown sugar. Let the meat marinate in the cola and sugar mixture for a few hours or overnight.
Drain the marinade off and put your pork into your crockpot. Add half of the 2nd can of Coke, along with the water and garlic salt, and cook on high for about 3-4 hours.
Remove pork from the crock pot, drain off the liquid, and shred the pork. Return the pork to your crockpot.
In a bowl or blender, combine the remainder of the 2nd can of Coke with the green chiles, enchilada sauce, and brown sugar. Mix well.
Put shredded pork back in the crock pot, then pour the soda/sauce mixture over the top. Let the pork and sauce cook until warmed through.
Cilantro Lime Rice
- 1 cup uncooked rice
- 1 Tbsp oil
- 1 tsp garlic, minced
- 1 tsp + 1 Tbsp lime juice, divided
- 2 cups water (or use chicken broth and omit bouillon)
- 2 bouillon cubes (or 2 tsp chicken bouillon granules)
- 2 tsp sugar
- 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the rice, butter, garlic, 1 tsp of lime juice, and chicken broth (or water and bouillon.) Bring to a boil.
Cover the saucepan and cook on low for 15 minutes, until the rice is tender. Remove from heat.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining tablespoon of lime juice, the sugar, and the chopped cilantro.
Pour the mixture over your cooked rice, mixing as you fluff the rice.
Creamy Tomatillo Dressing
- 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing mix (or make your own!)
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup milk
- 2-3 tomatillos, husk removed
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed
- 1 heaping tsp minced garlic
- juice of 1-2 limes
- 1 jalapeno, seeded
Throw it all in the blender and BLEND!
Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.
How To Make A Cafe Rio-Style Salad
Making a Cafe Rio-style pork salad is as easy as building up a pile of deliciousness. Here’s the traditional order of ingredients, starting from the bottom:
1. Flour tortilla
2. Black beans
3. Cilantro Lime Rice (see above)
4. Sweet Pork (see above)
5. Chopped romaine lettuce
6. Pico de gallo
7. Creamy Tomatillo Dressing (see above)
Those are the main elements to the salad, but if you really want to take things to the next level, try any (or all!) of these additional fixings:
- Tortilla chip strips
- Cotija cheese
- Fresh cilantro
- Squeeze of fresh lime juice