You all know that one of my favorite restaurants to eat at while I’m in Utah is Cafe Rio. When I’m not in Utah I make my own sweet pork to get me through until my next visit.
I was in Utah last weekend and believe it or not I DID NOT get to eat at Cafe Rio! Hard to believe I know.
I did eat at Bajio though – a similar style restaurant as Cafe Rio. I was introduced to Bajio by Emily – I guess Emily is officially my niece in law but she’s also a great friend! She told me I had to try the Bajio Chicken Chile Salad and she was right. It was so yummy.
I had it the first time about a year ago. I came home and got right on the computer to see if I could find a copycat recipe – no luck! Well several weeks ago I found one! In fact I found two different versions.
The first recipe was a bit labor intensive – having you caramelize onions and make or buy a green chile chutney. The second version was quick and easy and done in the crock pot. I opted for the second version. This recipe came from Kara’s Kitchen Creations - a darling blog with lots of yummy recipes!
While in Utah I wanted to have the Bajio Chicken Chile Salad so it would be fresh in mind and I could compare it to this copycat version. I have to say it comes pretty close.
In fact Tessa said she liked it better than the real thing - it wasn’t quite as sweet. I have to agree I liked it not quite as sweet also. My husband loved it too. He is always very complimentary about whatever I make but when he tells me more than once how good something is I know it is a keeper!
After I had shredded the chicken and returned it to the crock pot for an hour I drained off the juice and added a mixture of cornstarch and water to it to thicken it up. You can also at this point taste for sweetness and add more brown sugar if you’d like it a bit sweeter.
By thickening up the liquid you almost don’t even need to add salad dressing to this salad – the sweet glaze from the chicken acts as a salad dressing. If you want to add dressing the Cafe Rio Cilantro Dressing is perfect on this salad.
I used romaine lettuce, added the chicken, some shredded cheese and some tortilla strips that I had made. I searched three stores to see if I couldn’t just buy some tortilla strips but I couldn’t find them – anyone know where you can buy the thin tortilla strips?
So I made my own.
To make your own tortilla strips just cut fresh corn tortillas into thin strips – I used a pizza cutter. Heat a pan of oil and fry the tortilla strips until crisp, drain on a paper towel.
The recipe makes lots so we used some of the leftovers for quesadillas the next night – yum! Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Here it is with Cilantro dressing…
Bajio Chicken Chile Salad
5 chicken breasts (I only used 4 large ones)
1/2 cup salsa
1 Tbsp cumin
1/2 cup brown sugar (more to taste)
1 4 oz. can diced green chilies
6 oz. Sprite (1/2 can)
Combine all ingredients in a crock pot. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. Remove chicken and shred. Return to crock pot and cook 1 more hour. Thicken the juices with a little cornstarch mixed in water.
Serve with flour tortillas, lettuce, cheese, black beans and any other taco fixings.
If you want it spicer rather than sweeter add a hotter salsa and more green chilies.