Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Copy Cat Cafe Rio Sweet Pork

I feel like having my own copycat recipe for Cafe Rio Sweet Pork is like a food blogging rite of passage, similar to the feeling I had when I got my first piece of Pyrex, or when I used my Bosch for the first time. It may not be important to the rest of the world, but it is to me. 

My family always has Mexican food on Christmas Eve. As in, my dad makes loads of meat and flavorful, lard laden masa, and we make dozens  of pork, chicken, or even chile verde tamales. So many tamales! Like about a hundred. When we arrive at the house he's got all the corn husks soaked and the pans ready so that as soon as we're done rolling tamales, he's ready to steam them. We eat them smothered in fresh pico de gallo, sour cream, and cheese, with refried beans on the side. It is so awesome! I'm not sure exactly how this started, but I do know that when I was younger we lived in San Antonio, Texas and we would get the best tamales from H.E.B, the grocery store near our house. Then, we moved away and we couldn't get them. My dad has spent years perfecting his recipe, and every year we say, "This year. These ones are the best yet," as we groan appreciatively after multiple helpings of tamale bliss. This year really was great though.  I don't know that I'll ever even attempt to post a recipe for these tamales, because they need Christmas magic, but if you are nice and you live nearby I might share some with you someday. (So. Many. Tamales.)

But guess what! Not everyone likes tamales! Like my husband. I'm not sure how that happened. I mean, he passed the Harry Potter test, but his taste buds are broken when it comes to tamales, which is what brings me to my Copy Cat Cafe Rio Sweet Pork recipe. What he lacks in affection for masa he makes up for in respect for sweet pork. I knew if I had a crock pot full of sweet, sweet pork he'd be happy while I feasted on tamales. So I made this, and it rocked. He was happy. I was happy. Plus, I made the creamy tomatillo dressing which was equally heavenly on pork and tamales. Peace on earth. Goodwill toward men. 

I found this recipe from Tiffany at Creme de la Crumb and I really liked it. But, I felt like the pork wasn't quite sweet enough, so I added more brown sugar. Liberal amounts is probably a better way to describe my brown sugar usage. But, I did use a pork loin roast, which is a leaner cut of meat. Using a fattier cut will make your Cafe Rio Pork sweeter, more tender, and maybe less expensive. Plus, they do better in a slow cooker. Any way it goes down though, this recipe is a winner. My friend said it was the closest thing to Cafe Rio that wasn't Cafe Rio that he'd ever had. That's quite the compliment, folks! (I'm telling you- extra sugar...and extra soda.) 

Copy Cat Cafe Rio Sweet Pork

Adapted from creme de la crumb
Step 1
  • 2 lbs pork roast
  • 3/4 cup cola (Coke)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
Step 2
  • 1 cup cola (Coke)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Step 3
  • 3/4 cup cola (Coke)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1 4 oz can diced green chiles
  • 10 oz red enchilada sauce
  1. Step 1: Place pork in a Ziploc bag or large bowl with a tight fitting lid. Add cola and brown sugar. Chill at least 1 hour, or overnight.
  2. step 2: Put pork in slow cooker and discard marinade. Add cola, water, spices, and salt. cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4 hours, or until pork is fork-tender. If it doesn't fall apart when you poke it with a fork, it isn't quite ready! 
  3. Remove pork from slow cooker, drain juices, and shred pork with 2 forks. 
  4. Step 3: Blend cola, brown sugar, chili powder, green chiles, and enchilada sauce in blender until smooth. Pour sauce into slow cooker. 
  5. Cook for 30 more minutes. Serve in a burrito, salad, quesadilla, or on nachos with Cafe Rio Copy Cat Rice, black beans, and dressing.

**Tip: You can make this the day before an event! Add another 1/2 cup of cola to refresh the sauce. It reheats wonderfully in a crock pot on low for about an hour, and then turn it up to high just before you serve it. Prepared meat freezes well too!

Bake the bread. Share the slices. 

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