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Cafe Rio Shredded Chicken Taco Salads (for a crowd)

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Chicken Taco Salads (or Cafe Rio Salads as we like to call them) is a meal I have been making for over 8 years. I used to spend hours and hours preparing each dish–slow-cooking the meat, boiling beans on the stove top, and chopping fresh salsa by hand.

This is my go-to meal when cooking for a crowd, so I had to plan a day or two in advance in order to get everything hot and ready at the same time. Since I have been using an Instant Pot, it is possible to have this 8-part meal completely ready for 20 people in just 2 hours time. That’s pretty amazing. So, if you are in a bind and need to throw an impromptu meal together for a lot of people, this one is for you! It’s fresh and delicious and easy to stretch out with rice and beans. Enjoy!

Cafe Rio Shredded Chicken Taco Salads

Cafe Rio Copy Cat sweet portk salad (made with chicken) to feed 25 hungry people

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 25 people
Author heartysmarty

Ingredients

Sweet Salsa Chicken

  • 4 lbs Frozen Chicken Breasts about 6 large chicken breasts
  • 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 4 Cups Mild Pace Picante Salsa

Seasoned Black Beans

  • 32 oz Dry Black Beans rinsed and sorted
  • 3 1/2 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
  • 3 Tablespoons Better than Bouillon Chicken Soup Base
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Cumin
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Pepper

Lime Rice

  • 3 tablespoon Butter
  • 6 cups White Rice
  • 12 cups Chicken Broth
  • 3 Limes zested and juiced
  • 1 Tablespoon Dehydrated Onions
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt

Tomatillo Dressing (mild)

  • 1 Cup Plain Kefir or buttermilk
  • 1 Cup Mayonnaise original
  • 1 packet Traditional Hidden Valley Ranch Mix 3 Tablespoons
  • 4 Tomatillos washed and husks removed quartered
  • 1/2 bunch fresh Cilantro stems removed
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 1 Lime juiced
  • 1 small Jalapeno seeds removed

Mango Salsa

  • 4 1/2 Cups Fresh Peaches (or Mangoechopped
  • 2 Avocados chopped
  • 2 Cups Red Bell Peppers chopped fine
  • 1 Small Jalapeno chopped fine
  • 1/4 Cup Green Onions chopped fine
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro chopped fine
  • 2 Tablespoons Lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cumin

Toppings

  • 25 10" Flour Tortillas
  • 12 Cups Romaine Lettuce chopped (about 3 bags)
  • 8 large Vine-ripe Tomatoes chopped
  • 3 Cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese shredded

Instructions

Chicken

  1. Lay FROZEN chicken breasts on the bottom of and 8 quart Instant Pot. (See NotePour salsa and sprinkle brown sugar over the chicken.
  2. Secure the Instant Pot lid and turn the top nozzle to the [Sealing] position. Set the [Manual] or [Pressure Cook] setting to high for 20 minutes.
  3. It will take approximately 10 minutes for the Instant Pot to gain pressure before cooking time begins. After the cooking is complete, let the chicken sit and naturally release pressure for 10 minutes before venting the remaining pressure with the top nozzle.
  4. To shred the chicken, you can remove the chicken to a cookie sheet and hack at it with a metal spatula or forks. OR, use the whisking attachments in your countertop mixer (I use the Boscand put an entire breast into the mixer. Pulse three or four times and your chicken will be evenly and perfectly shredded.
  5. This makes about 25 half-cup servings of chicken.

Black Beans

  1. Combine all ingredients in the Instant Pot and fill with water to the 1/2 line inside the pot.
  2. Lock the lid into place and set the pot to the [Bean/Chili] setting for 25 minutes. You may also use the Manual or Pressure Cook Setting for 30 minutes.
  3. Once the cooking is finished, allow the pressure to naturally release. This will take about 20 minutes.
  4. This recipe makes 8 cups of beans which is 25 third-cup servings.

Lime Rice

  1. Add the rice and butter in a large stock pot over medium high heat.
  2. Brown the rice by cooking in butter about 5 minutes. Add broth, zest, juice dehydrated onions, and salt and cover with a lid.
  3. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until water is fully absorbed, and rice can be fluffed with a fork.
  4. Makes 25 half-cup servings.

Tomatillo Dressing

  1. In the order listed above, add all ingredients to the blender.
  2. Blend on high speed about 2 minutes or until smooth. Serve immediately or chill in an airtight container. Makes 1 quart of dressing which is about 2 ½ tablespoons of dressing each for 25 people.

Mango Salsa

  1. Chop all produce and combine in a large bowl. (See notes for my chopping tips.)
  2. Mix in the juice and spices and stir to combine.
  3. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Makes 10 Cups of salsa.

Recipe Notes

Finding a two-hour chunk of time to get all this on the table can be tricky. I suggest making the beans the day before and store them in a ziplock bag in the fridge. While the Instant Pot is doing it’s thing, I make the salsa, rice, and dressing. The dressing is also a good thing to make a day ahead and store in the fridge as well.

Chicken: If you have a smaller Instant Pot, cut this recipe in half and reduce pressure cook time to 15 minutes. Plan to make two batches of chicken (or borrow a friend’s cooker). This recipe freezes and re-heats beautifully in the microwave.
Beans: If you don’t love the smell of cumin and beans inside your kitchen (because who does?) I suggest setting your Instant Pot outside while it cooks and releases pressure. Of course, if the weather is poor, you will just have to enjoy this process inside. Also, these beans freeze and reheat very well.

I’m a bit OCD, so I do the chicken, beans, rice, dressing, and salsa myself. To lighten the load, I ask family or friends to provide tortillas, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, Mexican corn, and cut up fruit to round out the meal. (And I usually ask someone else to be in charge of paper goods, because I don’t have 25 place-settings lying around in my kitchen.)

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