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.
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!)