When building your burritos, tacos, or tostada salads there are several delicious firegrilled and pulled meats to choose from at Cafe Rio, but the signature dish that everyone raves about is the Sweet Pork Barbacoa. The slow-braised pork is fork tender and comes in a sweet sauce that is flavored with a certain popular soft drink. Over the years I have debunked several culinary rumors of Coca-Cola being used in some secret recipes, but in this case I have confirmed that the rumors are indeed true. Coca-Cola is the secret ingredient that helps give this pork its sweet flavor.

For this clone you’ll use the soda in the braising liquid and then again in the sweet sauce after the pork is shredded—you’ll need a total of 72 ounces of Coke, or the same amount that’s in a sixpack of cans. It’s best if you can find Mexican Coke, which is made with real sugar rather than highfructose corn syrup that’s found in the U.S. version, but even the U.S. Coke makes a very tasty finished product. Use this pork in homemade burritos and tacos, and on salads with rice, beans, mixed greens, guacamole, cheese, and pico de gallo.

5 lb. pork shoulder

48 ounces (4 12-ounce cans) Coca-Cola
2 cups chicken broth
½ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons salt

24 ounces (2 12-ounce cans) Coca-Cola
2 10-ounce cans mild enchilada sauce
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder

Cooking method

1-Trim any excess fat from the pork shoulder roast.

2-Combine all of the ingredients for the braising liquid in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium/high heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves, then carefully lower the pork into the liquid and cover. When the liquid comes to a full boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 4 hours. Turn the pork over every hour or so.

3-After 4 hours remove the pork from the liquid and discard the liquid. Cool the pork for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until you can handle it. Shred the pork into chunks, discarding any large portions of fat.

4-Clean out the pot, then pour all of the sauce ingredients into it over medium/high heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves, then add the pork back to the pot. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to help shred the pork into smaller pieces, until the sauce reduces by about one-quarter of its original volume. The sauce will thicken as the pork cools. Use tongs to remove the pork from the sauce to serve.

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