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Earlier this week I shared a delicious way to make luscious, juicy pork shoulder in the Instant Pot, inspired by the citrusy-garlicky-cumin-y heaven that is Cuban mojo.
That’s a recipe I usually make over the weekend so that I have plenty of ready to go protein for the week ahead. Now I’m gonna show you one of the super easy meals I make with that deliciously tender pork.
These Cuban pork bowls whip up in about half an hour on a weeknight, although I’ve included both the recipe for the pork on its own AND how to make the bowls below.
You can make the Instant Pot Cuban Mojo Pulled Pork ahead of time like I do, then stash it in the fridge for future meals. If you do things this way, make sure to save all of the strained cooking liquid in a separate, airtight container. That way, you can spoon over some of the extra jus when you’re reheating the pork, which helps keep it lovely and tender, not to mention flavorful.
(If you’d like to print the recipe for the pulled pork separately, you can find it here.)
Now let’s get to the Cuban pork bowls. This is the meal I make with the leftover pork on a busy weeknight. It practically makes itself, since you’re just whipping up the fragrant yellow rice, reheating the pork if you like – I actually love it cold, go figure – and smashing or slicing an avocado or two.
You could go all out and fry your own plantains which would be more authentic and also ridiculously yum, but if you’re wanting to keep things simple like I did here, some plantain chips on the side work just fine.
Speaking of plantain chips, the ones in the photo are my favorite lately. Super crunchy, heavily salted and there’s something about the ridged chip that makes it better for dipping in guacamole.
To pull everything together, these Cuban pork bowls start with a base of the yellow rice, piled with pork, drizzled with mojo and served with smashed or sliced avocado and those plantain chips for crunchy contrast.
So good we’ve had this twice in the last week! I didn’t remember for the photos, but I especially like all of this popped on top of sliced romaine and mixed greens for a little more texture and a sneaky nutritional bump.Print
Cuban Pork Bowls with Mojo & Yellow Cauliflower Rice
These Cuban pork bowls have tender pork scented with garlic & cumin, piled on herbed cauliflower rice that’s drizzled with citrusy mojo sauce, then finished with creamy avocado & crispy plantain chips.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes for the pork; 10 minutes for the bowls
- Cook Time: 90 minutes for the pork; 25 minutes for the rice
- Total Time: 40 minutes prep, 1 hour 55 minutes total cook time. 2 hours 35 if you make the whole dish from scratch, or 35 minutes to make the bowls from pre-made pulled pork.
- Yield: 4 bowls, with lots of leftover pork. 1x
- Category: one bowl meals
- Method: Instant Pot & oven
- Cuisine: Cuban-ish
For the Cuban mojo pulled pork:
- 4 lbs / 1.8 kg boneless pork shoulder
- 1/3 cup / 80 ml fresh orange juice, about 2 medium oranges
- 1/4 cup / 60 ml fresh grapefruit juice, about 1 medium grapefruit
- 1/4 cup / 60 ml fresh lime juice, about 2 medium limes
- 2 tbsp / 30 ml avocado oil or olive oil, I like this one
- 2 heads of garlic, cloves peeled
- 1 tbsp / 10 g coconut sugar, optional
- 1 tbsp / 2 g dried oregano
- 2 tsp / 10 g coarse kosher salt
- 2 tsp / 6 g ground cumin, I like this one
- 2 bay leaves
For the additional mojo sauce:
- 1 cup / 240 ml reserved, strained cooking liquid
- 2 tbsp / 30 ml fresh grapefruit juice
- 2 tbsp / 30 ml fresh orange juice
- 2 tbsp / 30 ml fresh lime juice
- 1 clove crushed or minced garlic, optional, to taste
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- salt, to taste
- optional, but lovely: minced fresh oregano and / or cilantro
For the yellow cauliflower rice:
- 4 cups / 480 g frozen riced cauliflower, see notes
- 2 tbsp / 30 ml avocado oil or mild flavored olive oil
- 2 tsp / 8 g granulated garlic
- 1 tsp / 3 g ground cumin
- 1 tsp / 2 g ground turmeric, I like this one
- 1 tsp / 1 g dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 ts fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- smashed or sliced avocado
- plantain chips, I am obsessed with these!
- fresh cilantro
- lime wedges
BROWN: Cut the pork into four equally sized pieces. In a well-oiled skillet over medium heat, cook the pork in batches as needed until it is fully browned on both sides, about 7 – 10 minutes per side. Add the browned pieces to the stainless steel insert of the Instant Pot, making sure they sit below the max fill line.
BLEND: Add all of the remaining ingredients for the pork except the bay leaves to a wide mouth Mason jar or blender pitcher. Blend until completely smooth in the jar with an immersion blender or using your blender.
COOK: Nestle the bay leaves in with the pork and pour the marinade over the top. Close the Instant Pot lid and set the cook time for 60 minutes at high manual pressure with the “keep warm” feature set to “off”. Once the cooking time is complete, let the pork natural release for 30 minutes, then manually release the very little remaining pressure.
SHRED: Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked pork to a plate carefully, since it will be very tender and likely to break up as you attempt to remove it from the cooking liquid. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes or so, until cool enough to handle. (I like to use that time to make the extra mojo dipping sauce). Using gloved hands or two forks, gently pull apart the pork until it is in chunks or as shredded as you like, transferring it to a mixing bowl as you go.
STRAIN: Place a fine mesh sieve over a 4 cup / 960 ml fat separator and carefully strain the cooking liquid from the Instant Pot, discarding all of the garlic solids & the bay leaves. Reserve 1 cup / 240 ml of the strained, de-fatted cooking liquid for the base of the additional mojo sauce.
COAT: Use as much of the remaining strained cooking liquid as you like to gently coat the mojo pulled pork until it is glistening but not swimming in extra liquid. Taste and add any additional salt if you would like to. I like to also add a little of the rendered fat from the cooking liquid, too, as it helps to keep the pork especially tender & juicy, but you can choose not to do that if you prefer. Make sure to add any extra salt before adding the fat. Let the pork rest while you make the sauce – it will absorb the extra liquid added as it sits.
MIX: To the reserved cup of strained cooking liquid, add all of the mojo sauce ingredients. Stir to combine, taste & adjust seasonings to your liking. Add the fresh minced herbs if you like. Keep the mojo sauce to hand for the Cuban pork bowls and save the leftover cooking liquid in an airtight container in the fridge for reheating the leftover pork for another meal in the future.
For the yellow cauliflower rice:
SEASON: Preheat the oven to 400 F / 205 C. Line a baking sheet with foil if you don’t want it to get stained with the turmeric. Break up the frozen cauliflower rice while it is still in the bag, making sure there aren’t any large clumps. Tip the frozen cauliflower rice into a mixing bowl and drizzle it with the oil, then add all of the seasonings. Use a spoon or spatula to stir the cauliflower until it is evenly coated with oil and seasonings – once it’s a uniform yellow color, it’s good to go.
ROAST: Spread the yellow cauliflower rice in an even layer across the prepped baking sheet. Roast in the oven on the middle rack for 15 minutes. Take the rice out and use a spatula to scrape it up from the baking sheet and carefully stir it, fluffing and stirring it as you go. Let it sit for a minute while some of the steam dissipates, then spread it out across the baking sheet again in a single layer. Don’t press down on it or otherwise smush it onto the sheet. Return the sheet to the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes, until it is just barely beginning to brown at the edges. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and re-fluff it with the spatula. Taste and any additional salt, if you like.
For the cuban pork bowls:
ASSEMBLE: Divide the yellow cauliflower rice between bowls, then top each with as much of the pulled pork as you like. Spoon some of the extra mojo sauce over the pork and yellow rice, then add the avocado, plantain chips & lime wedges on the side. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve.
- Resist the urge to chop the pork smaller! I have tested this recipe multiple ways & times, only to find that cutting the pork down into 2 – 3 inch chunks results in a significantly drier, paler end result even with a reduced cook time.
- If you buy the organic bags of frozen cauliflower from Costco, this recipe uses 2 of the 12 oz bags that comes in the package of four.
- Line your baking sheet if you don’t want it to end up stained yellow because of the turmeric!
- Make it AIP: omit the cumin from the Cuban pork. I like to add some 2 teaspoons of dried cilantro and a 1/2 teaspoon of ground dried lime, too, if I have it. (This is the dried lime, sometimes labelled as dried lemon or limon omani). Omit the cumin & black pepper from the yellow rice & add a teaspoon of dried cilantro leaves (not coriander seed!).
- Make it ahead: I usually make the pulled pork at the weekend and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, ready to assemble the bowls as an easy weeknight dinner. Save all the cooking liquid / mojo sauce in a separate container for spooning over the meat when you’re re-heating it. The cauliflower rice can be made ahead and kept in the fridge for up to 3 days. It’s best eaten cold as leftovers, rather than re-heating because a second round of heat will make it too soft for most people’s taste.
- If you would like to print out the Instant Pot Cuban Mojo Pulled Pork recipe separately, you can find it here.