April 29, 2010

cafe rio pork barbacoa

I am certainly not the first person to post their version of Cafe Rio's Pork Barbacoa on their blog and this is certainly not the first recipe I've tried when attempting to recreate the deliciousness that is their Pork Salad.

I heard years ago that the trick was Dr. Pepper. Then I heard Coca-Cola. Then I read El Pato and that's where I started. It was good but not even close to the original. From there, I tried three other recipes which were all delicious but not at all like Cafe Rio's. Finally, I found a recipe on Heidikins that intrigued me. It was the first I had seen that called for Dr. Pepper. I gave it a shot this week and I am finally satisfied. It was so delicious. I altered her recipe a bit but mostly for convenience and a kick.
5 - 6 pounds pork tenderloin (or roast)
21 ounces Dr. Pepper (do NOT use diet or generic)
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 cloves garlic
1 (7 ounce) can chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
6 ounces medium red taco sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Place pork in the crock pot and make sauce.

Here's the trick with the sauce: Remove chipotle chilies from the can and put in the measuring cup that you'll measure your Dr. Pepper with. Pour Dr. Pepper over them and remove the chilies (and throw away) just to get the sauce off and then continue pouring Dr. Pepper into the measuring cup until you reach the full 21 ounces. You'll also need to rinse out the chipotle can with the Dr. Pepper to get all the adobo sauce out. Do NOT use the chipotle peppers (I did this and it was killer hot). You can add 1 or 2 for a kick if you want.

Blend all ingredients together in either a blender or with an immersion blender until combined and pour over the pork. Cook on high for 5 hours or on low for 8 hours until the pork is easily shreddable. If you've never had a Cafe Rio Pork Salad, what you'll want to do to make this is take a flour tortilla and melt some cheese on it. From there, here's the layers:

White Rice (I'll post my recipe later for Cilantro Lime Rice)
Black Beans (I just used canned that I heat up on the stove and add seasoned salt and pepper with some garlic powder)
Romaine Lettuce, chopped
Pico de Gallo
Cilantro Ranch Tomatillo Dressing (I have a special recipe for this but this time I actually just blended together some Ranch dressing with some fresh cilantro and some tomatillo salsa I had made earlier and it was great!)


  1. I can't wait to make it... I'll make sure to remove the chiles from the adobo sauce-- that was HOT!! But still tasted good! Liz, you will be so proud of me- I made homemade pizza for the first time last night and didn't even follow a recipe! I just made it up off the top of my head and it turned out amazing!!!! Steve said it was one of the best pizza's he's ever had... except that the dough was a big soggy on the inside! I can't wait to make it again!

  2. Um, YUM! I soo mish Cafe Rio since moving here. I go everytime I'm back for a visit. When can we come over for dinner to sample some?? :)

  3. I've actually tried her recipe before. It's a good one. Parker and I make this recipe a lot. Yum!

  4. totally making these this sunday!

  5. This sounds really good!!! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  6. Sounds SO yummy! I have unintentionally made things inedible by using too much chipotle before, so I'll take your advice on tossing the peppers.

  7. Seriously!! MY. MOUTH. IS. WATERING!!!!

  8. We just had this! Thank you! My husband loved it!!!

  9. Hi there! I'm so pleased it turned out for you!! I absolutely love this recipe (have it in the crock pot right now for Cinco de Mayo, actually) and I love finding fellow Rio lovers. ;o)


  10. I don't eat Cafe Rio, but I tried this recipe and it's AWESOME! My husband AND my kids love it. Good job Lizzie.

  11. yummy! thanks so much for sharing. Looking forward to other posts from your delish blog. :)


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