A few years ago, my sisters (who live in Maryland and Utah) were just RAVING about Cafe Rio, especially about their freshly made tortillas and their salads. Cafe Rio is a “Mexican” (notice the quotes) fast service restaurant similar to Chipotle. So, while stopping for gas when passing through Utah, I went by a Cafe Rio and ordered a shredded roast beef burrito. Mind you, I am not usually a “meat” gal. I usually opt for vegetarian dishes, but I was told that the roast beef was great. So, I tried it. It was fine, but not as amazing as everyone said. At least, that was my initial reaction. I could only eat half of my burrito (it was huge!), so I saved the rest in the cooler. When I ate it later, I realized how yummy it truly was! The roast beef was well flavored and tender, the tortilla was wonderful, and the salsas were fresh and yummy. Since then, I’ve been a Cafe Rio fan.
What’s the problem? For a very long time, there were no Cafe Rio restaurants anywhere within an hour drive of my home. I don’t know about you, but I don’t often drive an hour just to eat roast beef. It was tempting, but I couldn’t justify the gas expenditure. So I did what I often do… I turned to my friend Google and started looking for knock-off recipes. I found this one by Jill. (She has a great website full of yummy recipes. I highly recommend you take a look and poke around.)
Her recipe is a crock-pot recipe which makes it easy, right? Only when you realize it’s a crock-pot recipe before hand, and you give yourself enough time to cook it. So, there I was, in the early afternoon, ingredients assembled and ready to make dinner and not enough time to make it. I needed to stew the roast in the crock-pot for 9-10 hours. I didn’t have 9-10 hours! So, I adapted and made it on the stove. It was tender, delicious, and a big hit with EVERYONE at home! So much so that they asked me to make it again and again. I’ve made a couple of tiny adjustments to the recipe for personal taste and ease, but, for the most part, it’s the same as the recipe by Jill. Here’s my slightly altered version.
Cafe Rio Beef
Adapted from Jill’s recipe found here
2-3 pound Chuck Roast (or Chuck Tender Roast, my favorite)
2 small cans green enchilada sauce (I use Old El Paso.)
1 tub of Knorr Beef Homestyle Stock concentrate mixed with 2 cups of warm water
2 8-ounce cans of tomato sauce (to taste)
1 tablespoon cumin
1 small onion, halfed and sliced
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced or put through a garlic press
salt and pepper to taste
Oil for browning roast
Remove roast from packaging and lightly salt and pepper. Use a very light hand! Preheat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy stockpot, then add the roast. Brown on all sides. If the roast is too large, cut it in half and brown the halves separately. Do not rush or skip this stage! It adds a fabulous flavor that you will miss if you don’t brown the meat.
When the roast is almost done browning, add the onions to the pan and let cook for a minute or two. Next, add the garlic and let cook for a minute. If you let it go too long, the garlic will get bitter, so better to under cook it than overcook it. After a minute, add the sauces, stock mixture, and cumin to the pan. Stir to combine, then put a lid on the pan and let the meat cook until tender (2-3 hours), stirring occasionally. Once the meat is tender, remove it from the pot, shred it with a fork, and return the shredded meat to the pan, mixing it in with the sauce.
Serve with rice, in burritos, quesadillas, tacos, etc.
It’s a super easy recipe, and it tastes great! You can do it in the crock-pot if you desire, but I highly recommend browning the meat first. It adds a lovely flavor. How does that flavor rate in a head-to-head test with Cafe Rio? For similarity in taste, this recipe gets a B. For overall flavor, I give this recipe an A+. I think it’s even better than Cafe Rio!
When I made it last week, I fully intended to follow the instructions above, but life got crazy, and I realized I didn’t even have 2-3 hours to stew the meat. So I used my trusty pressure cooker and had this super tender and flavorful beef ready in about an hour. (If this makes you want a pressure cooker, check out this pressure cooker on Amazon.) Watch how in my photo step-by-step.
Dinner also included Cafe Rio black beans, cilantro-lime rice, and a tomato-corn salsa. I’ll share those recipes with you soon.
We make this pretty regularly, because as much as I love Cafe Rio, it costs us over $40 for 4 of us to eat their delicious food. We can’t do that every day or even every week. This lovely meal cost about $17. For that $17, we got several meals out of it: dinner for 5 the first night (with most people eating 2 servings); 2 lunches each for my hubby, me, and my youngest son; and at least 4 “midnight snacks” for my other two boys. So that makes 19 hearty meals/snacks for $17 which everyone LOVED. Not too shabby, huh?
What do you think? How about that for easy?
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March 29, 2014 at 10:26 am
This all looks Soooo delicious! I’ll have to give it a try 🙂 thank you!
March 29, 2014 at 10:51 am
You’re making me want a pressure cooker! Meat that tender in so little time, genius. Looks really delicious x
March 29, 2014 at 11:32 am
This looks fabulous!
March 29, 2014 at 11:33 am
So good!!! This is the perfect weekend lunch!
March 29, 2014 at 11:43 am
I don’t think they have that restaurant chain in the Northeast, but I do love Mexican food. Your beef looks delicious, tender and flavorful.
March 29, 2014 at 11:48 am
I know they have some locations in Maryland and Virginia, but I’m not sure about further north. Thanks so much for stopping by today!
March 29, 2014 at 12:10 pm
Electric pressure cooker. Push the button, walk away. It will beep when done…and keep food warm until you are ready. It was the best purchase I ever made. Will try this recipe soon…..looks so yummy
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March 29, 2014 at 12:16 pm
I LOVE pressure cooking a good chuck roast!
March 29, 2014 at 3:35 pm
This looks so good! I have never heard of, let alone been to a cafe rio but this recipe has me wanting it! I LOVE my pressure cooker so now I’m excited to have another project for it….
March 29, 2014 at 4:08 pm
oh wow that looks so good! awesome recipe!
March 29, 2014 at 6:32 pm
Now I know I’ll have to dig my pressure cooker out and start using it again. Just hope the rubber seal isn’t rotted away after so many years of non use. I’ve had it for years and years and used to have it going for every meal, but just got out of the habit. Now I’ll have to get back in the habit, because that dish looks and sounds to wonderful. And I really miss that falling apart tenderness I used to get on every cut of meat imaginable.
March 30, 2014 at 9:37 am
Awesome call on using a pressure cooker. I love how it explodes the meat in such a short time!
March 30, 2014 at 7:45 pm
Ooh, the flavors! You’re really making it hard to resist that pressure cooker, Nancy! 😉
March 30, 2014 at 9:59 pm
Wow this looks amazing! and very detailed post. the picture kind of reminds me of chipotles…
March 31, 2014 at 10:46 am
Here in Spain we have none of the restaurants mentioned above but the recipe is great for a Mexican menu.
March 31, 2014 at 11:06 am
oh my lordddd ❤ ❤
March 31, 2014 at 11:10 am
This looks utterly gorgeous, will have to give it a go soon!
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April 7, 2014 at 7:20 am
Sounds real good to me!
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April 11, 2014 at 8:45 am
Do you ever add Chipotle Tabasco to your recipes.. my family loves it! I spice up my whimpy’s tacos etc.. even pulled pork!
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April 30, 2014 at 10:58 am
Reblogged this on My Foray Into Food Storage and commented:
One of my favorite things to make at home! You can do it on the stove in a regular pot or a pressure cooker or in a crockpot. It’s so delicious!
April 30, 2014 at 12:19 pm
This is making me hungry. 😦 🙂
April 30, 2014 at 2:59 pm
I just ordered a pressure cooker yesterday. I’ll have to try this recipe! Any suggestions on where to find good pressure cooker recipes?
May 1, 2014 at 11:36 am
Most of the things I make in my pressure cooker have been adapted from recipes I already have (usually because I started later than I should have and must use the pressure cooker if we are to eat at a decent hour). Most pressure cookers come with a recipe book, and I recommend you try some of those.
This is a link to the Presto website with some good recipes: http://www.gopresto.com/recipes/pressurecooking/index.php?PHPSESSID=6d4888
I’m also partial to food.com. Here’s a link to their pressure cooker recipes. http://www.food.com/recipes/pressure-cooker
Best of luck with your new pressure cooker. I’d love if you’d come back and let me know how you like it.
April 30, 2014 at 5:24 pm
I love it when a good recipe makes left overs! This looks scrum diddly umptious
May 1, 2014 at 12:29 pm
I’m not sure I can find green enchilada sauce in Ecuador, but this looks delicious! I may have to look for a recipe to make it from scratch just so I can try making this recipe 🙂 I’ll let you know if I figure something out!
May 1, 2014 at 3:50 pm
YUM YUM! Looks so amazing!
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June 23, 2014 at 10:20 am
Would you recommend a pressure cooker or a crock pot?
June 23, 2014 at 11:26 am
It depends on what you want to do with it. Most people don’t can, so, for most, a pressure cooker is best. Also, pressure canners tend to be large and unwieldy, so they aren’t the best for every day cooking.
IF you want one tool to do both pressure cooking and canning, a pressure canner is a better value.
August 27, 2014 at 11:17 am
Ohhh nice recipe! I’m really having fun trying out new recipes with my pressure cooker – I think I’ll try yours! The best part of cooking with a pressure cooker is it’s hard to make something that tastes bad. Do you know Miss Vickie’s (you may know her as the go-to pressure cooking lady) recipe book? She’s got some really good recipes in there that you might enjoy.