Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Yo quiero Cafe Rio!

I realized something odd when I moved to PA-- there is an obvious lack of Mexican food restaurants. Seriously, Taco Bell is about as authentic as it gets out here. When I mentioned this to Sean, he said he thinks it is because the Latino people he meets out here are not from Mexico, rather places like Spain. Sorta makes sense. Needless to say, we’ve been missing Mexican food! And as with every other summer, we’ve been missing Café Rio—not that it is really Mexican food, but whatever.

Taryn and my sister-in-law have both given me Café Rio knock-off recipes for the sweet pork salad and this week I finally decided to give it a shot. Their recipes were different, so I went through and combined the things I liked from the two and made my own.

I figured if I was going to go through all of the effort to try and re-create the salad (seriously, when you look at the recipe you will see it is no light-weight commitment!) I should try to make it as close to the original as possible. This means I was a total nerd and even bought the little tin pans to serve the salad in. Oh, and since the grocery store’s only option for the tortilla strips was Fritos, I actually bought corn tortillas and fried my own. Again, I already admitted to being a nerd and just remember I have A LOT of free time people.

Final product:

Surprisingly, it was pretty darn good. It tasted a lot more like the real thing than I thought it would. I think the salad dressing is what made it taste most like the original. The pork was totally sweet and it truly did make me feel like I was eating a salad from the restaurant. I swear those tin pans made a difference! I will probably never go through the effort to make this at home again since I am going home soon and Café Rio really is amazing and a bargain (and a lot less work). It is a good option for those who miss it and aren’t in Utah though.

Here is the recipe I used in case you are interested in giving it a whirl yourself.
Note: I am not responsible for any writer’s cramp you experience as a result from writing this down.

1 1/3 c. sour cream
¾ c. mayo
1 bunch cilantro
1 pkg. dry Ranch dressing mix
3 small tomatillos
2 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lime
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes

Blend all ingredients together in blender.

2 Tbs. butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
3 c. uncooked rice
4 c. water
4 tsp. chicken bullion
½ c. chopped cilantro
¾ tsp. salt
1 tsp. lime zest
2 Tbs. lime juice
2 Tbs. sugar

Saute onion and garlic in butter til soft. Add rest of ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover with lid and simmer for 20 minutes.

Pork roast (mine was 2 lbs. and it was plenty for 4 or 5 big salads)
1 cup mild salsa
1 can Coke or Pepsi
2 c. brown sugar

Put pork roast in slow cooker. Mix rest of ingredients together and pour over pork. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours.

Assembly instructions:
Melt a small amount of shredded cheese onto a flour tortilla. Layer the following on top of the tortilla: rice, beans (black or pinto) that have been warmed, pork, shredded Romaine lettuce, pico de gallo (I made my own with chopped Roma tomatoes, onions and cilantro), a scoop of guacamole, a lime wedge, tortilla strips, and finally a shake of parmesan cheese.


Kinley said...

You are awesome! The tin pan thing is something that I would do and get crap from Cory for at least 2 weeks! I admire your dedication to the task! When do you all come back?

Jenny said...

Haha yeah, I was even laughing at myself! We are leaving Aug. 15 and should make it back to Utah on the 17th. Last time we saw you guys, Tanner was a newborn!

Kinley said...

I know it is nuts! He turned 2 this past April can you believe that? He is so tall! You guys would be proud! It obviously isn't from me!

Ryan and Cecily said...

Jenny! That is awesome! I love that you bought the tin pans! It looks so official. haha :)

Mark and Lachelle said...

You quiero Cafe Rio, tambien....but I don't think I love it that much, to go through all that work!! Holy cow! I'm impressed you made it look so much like the real thing though! I guess I'm just spoiled, cuz we'll be in Utah for the rest of my natural born I don't have to worry about not having a Cafe Rio nearby ;)

Grant and Taryn Layton said...

You are amazing! The tortilla strips and all, insane. I've had Cafe Rio twice in the last 3 days and am jealous that you get it still for at least 3 more. The recipe will have to do for me I guess, even though it is a lot of work :)

Rachel said...

That salad looks amazing. Erin has fixed 3 times this last month! Mmmm.... IS all I can say!

Amylouwho said...

me again, I love Cafe Rio too. They don't have them in D.C. either.