Sweet Pork Mexican Salad

Like so many of you, I am addicted to Café Rio / Costa Vida’s  sweet pork salad with  the creamy tomatillo ranch dressing.  Oh, it is so good… to die for.  It calls your name, and wakes you in the night!  Last time I was there I asked for the recipe for the sweet pork and for the dressing (the rest I figured I could come up with on my own).  They gave it to me but in HUGE QUANTITIES like for a restaurant… duh.  Dressing called for 3 gallons mayo, 2 gallons buttermilk, etc.  After playing around with it I came up with something that is close… nothing like the real thing baby, but this will do in a pinch.

Sweet Pork

  • 3-5 pounds pork tenderloin roast
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup salsa (nothing fancy… just Pace or something)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 can Dr. Pepper

The night before you want to serve the salad, put the pork loin and the 1 cup of water in your crock pot on low, and let cook overnight.

In the morning, remove pork from crock pot, put in large bowl and use forks to pull pork apart into small strings.   Combine the salsa, brown sugar and Dr. Pepper in a bowl.  Put pork in crock pot and pour liquid over top.  Set crock pot to low and cook for 8 hours.

Creamy Tomatillo Ranch Dressing

  • 3 large tomatillos (canned or fresh)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1 envelope buttermilk ranch dressing mix (Hidden Valley)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
  • juice from one lime
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp canned diced jalapeno peppers (more or less to taste)

Combine all ingredients in blender and combine till thick and creamy.  Refrigerate for an hour or so to let flavors meld.  Dressing can be saved in airtight container for about 3-4 days in refrigerator.

So, this is a layered salad and so you will also need the following, and should layer in this order:

  • Warm Tortilla (I like to buy the uncooked tortillas in Costco’s refrigerated case and cook them fresh for this salad, but any tortilla will do)
  • Cooked white rice
  • Warmed Pinto or black beans (your preference)
  • Sweet Pork (from recipe above)
  • thinly sliced romaine lettuce
  • diced tomatoes
  • glob of guacamole
  • glob of sour cream
  • tortilla strips
  • sprinkling of grated cotija cheese
  • and of course the dressing (I usually serve on the side)

So, there you have it.  FYI… my kids don’t so much love the salad, so I usually end up making them a quesadilla or burrito from the preceeding ingredients and they dip that in the dressing.  YUM! ENJOY!

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