I think sweet pork is a Utah thing. Right? I had never heard of it until I moved here and experienced Cafe Rio for the first time which is a fast casual “Mexican” restaurant that’s all over the state. There are so many versions of copycat recipes and over the last 10 years I’ve made enough to finalize my favorite version. My Sweet Pork with Jalapeno Cilantro Ranch is a family favorite and I’m confident that it will be yours too!
What is sweet pork? It’s a pork butt or shoulder roast that has been slow cooked in Mexican spices, shredded, then combined with enchilada sauce and brown sugar. It’s very simple but a powerhouse with flavor! The Jalapeno Cilantro Ranch is a MUST with it no matter how it’s served.
Making the Sweet Pork
There are many many variations of sweet pork and many of them include a can of soda to tenderize and sweeten. I have tried it that way and felt that the soda was totally unnecessary. Why add more sugar and chemicals anyway? My version is very easy!
Trim your pork shoulder or butt of any large fatty pieces then place in a slow cooker. Add diced onion then mix Worcestershire sauce, water, garlic powder, chili powder, ground ginger and salt together then pour over the meat. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
Next, remove the meat, shred with two forks then place back into the slow cooker with half of the cooking juices. Add brown sugar and enchilada sauce then let it heat through for another 15 minutes or so.
It makes so much and I love to make it. IF we have leftover meat, I freeze it in smaller amounts to use later for nachos.
Making the Jalapeno Cilantro Ranch
This dressing is so so good that you’ll just want a straw! It tastes very similar to the House Creamy Tomatillo Dressing from Cafe Rio. Honestly, I think it’s even better!
Add buttermilk, mayo, Ranch seasoning, cilantro, jalapeno, tomatillos, lime and garlic to a blender and blend until smooth. Easy!
How to Serve Sweet Pork with Jalapeno Cilantro Ranch
If you’ve never been to Cafe Rio, they have their variety of meats that you can choose to put in tacos, enchiladas, burritos, tostadas, quesadillas, nachos, or salads. So, you get to choose how you serve this at your house! The Jalapeno Cilantro Ranch can be used as a topping, dipping sauce, or salad dressing with these options. Our favorite way to serve Sweet Pork is in a salad. It’s so easy to make them at home!
Start with a warmed flour tortilla, add shredded cheese, black or pinto beans, and cilantro lime rice. One of these days I’ll share my rice recipe but I honestly make it different every time. Next, add some sweet pork then top with shredded lettuce, queso fresco (cheese), and a generous drizzle of Jalapeno Cilantro Ranch. Yum!
You can also add extra cilantro, a squeeze of fresh lime and even some crushed tortilla chips for crunch. These Sweet Pork with Jalapeno Cilantro Ranch salads are incredible!
Sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace. Ingredients on sale September 22-28: Boston butt roast, enchilada sauce, buttermilk, sweet onions
Sweet Pork with Jalapeno Cilantro Ranch
For the Sweet Pork:
- 3-4 lbs pork shoulder or butt roast, fat trimmed
- 1 large yellow or white onion, diced
- 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 3/4 cups brown sugar
- 28 oz red enchilada sauce
For the Jalapeno Cilantro Ranch:
- 1 cup mayonnaise (light is ok)
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing dry mix
- 2 tomatillos, husked and quartered
- 1 jalapeno, seeded
- 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro (stems and all!)
- 2 cloves fresh garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Juice of 1 lime
- Place pork in a slow cooker and add onions. In a small bowl, whisk together Worcestershire, water, garlic powder, chili powder, ginger and salt. Pour over pork. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
- Remove meat and shred. Discard half of the liquid in the slow cooker then place shredded meat back in. Add brown sugar and enchilada sauce then stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 20 more minutes or until heated through.
- To make dressing, add all ingredients to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Add more buttermilk if needed to create desired consistency. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
- Use the meat in burritos, tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, nachos or salads. Use the dressing as a topping, salad dressing, or dipping sauce for any of those options.