Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cafe Rio-style Pork Barbacoa

This is one of those recipes we make ALL THE TIME and eat its leftovers ALL THE TIME. It's delicious and pretty easy.

(Sorry, no pictures this time. I haven't made this for a while and haven't taken pictures when I have before.)

Cafe Rio-style Pork Barbacoa

-About 4 lbs pork roast*
-1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
-1-2 garlic cloves, pressed (I mince mine because I strain the juice before serving, but it's up to you)
-1 1/2 to 2 cups brown sugar, packed
-1 tsp cumin
-1 tsp taco seasoning (if you don't have taco seasoning, use 2 tsp cumin and maybe some chili powder)
-2 cups Coke, Dr Pepper, or Rootbeer **
-2 T molasses
-1/2 tsp salt

*(I've used both bone-in and boneless. Bone-in has a bit more flavor but it's a LOT more work because you have to clean out all the bones and cartilage and fat when you shred the meat. Boneless is far less work and you really aren't sacrificing much flavor in my opinion. Also, I've used more than 4 lbs of meat, and as long as it fits in your crock pot, it didn't seem like it needed any more sauce than the 4 lb recipe.)

 **(I usually use Shasta brand since it's cheap. I also think I like the Dr Pepper version best...and probably the Rootbeer version the least. Coke is probably the closest to Cafe Rio, but it's totally a matter of preference. And, if you're not into caffeine, you can use caffeine free soda. No biggie. Just don't use diet. It doesn't work.)

Put roast inside a crock pot. Mix all the sauce ingredients together until the sugar dissolves and then pour it over the pork. Cook on low until the pork can be shredded with a fork. (For the bone-in roast this took about 9 hours. The boneless ones I've got are usually packaged as three smaller roasts, so those only took about 6 hours to cook until shreddable. A good standard is about 8 hours if you have one large piece of meat, less if you have a few smaller pieces.) Watch it towards the end if you can. Overcooking it makes it dryer than you probably want it.

When the meat's done, I take it out a chunk at a time and shred it and clean out meat goobers. (I'm picky about what fat and stuff I eat in my meat.) When all the meat is out of the sauce I strain the sauce into a bowl and throw away any gross stuff that gets strained out. (If you have a bone-in piece of meat it takes a lot more work when you're shredding it and stuff if you want to clean it all out. It's especially important to strain the juice if you use this meat.) After the juice is strained, pour it all back into your crock pot and serve. 

This is SUPER easy to freeze. Just put some meat in a freezer-safe container, spoon enough sauce in that it mostly covers the meat, and then freeze it. When you want to serve it just open the lid enough that it won't explode, and microwave it on defrost until you can break it apart into chunks, then microwave it normally until it's warm enough to serve.

We eat this in tacos usually with cilantro-lime rice (I'll post my recipe soon) and some seasoned black beans and taco fixin's. It's good in salad, enchiladas, on nachos, whatever. It's delicious. :)

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