Cuban Pork ‘Rice’ Bowls

Prep time: 30 min      Cook time: 90 min      Rest time: 10 mins     Total time: 2 hrs 10 min

Makes: 4 bowls

Make it Dairy-Free: Saute the kabocha squash with animal fat other than ghee

Make it Low FODMAP: Omit the plantains

Make it Zero Carb and Sugar-Free: Omit the plantains and kabocha squash

With crispy kabocha squash instead of rice and bacon instead of beans, these bowls are a spin on the classic. The plantains are fried in bacon fat and the pork shoulder is pressure-cooked in orange juice. Clean and simple without sacrificing taste.


What you need to make Cuban Pork ‘Rice’ Bowls

Ingredients:

Equipment:

How to make Cuban Pork ‘Rice’ Bowls

Start the pork.

If you’re working with one large slab of pork shoulder, cut it into 4-5 pieces.

Rub the pulled pork pieces with sea salt, plus whatever other spices you prefer to use. (I don’t use any spices, and it comes out great!)

In your Instant Pot or on the stovetop, sear all sides of the pork shoulder pieces until brown. For the Instant Pot, use the Saute function. For the stovetop, use medium-high heat.

Place the seared pork pieces in the Instant Pot or slow cooker. Add the freshly squeezed orange juice.

For the Instant Pot, cook on High Pressure for 60 minutes with 20 minutes slow release. For the slow cooker, cook on low for 8 hours.

Make the kabocha squash.

Dice the kabocha squash into 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch pieces.

Measure out 3-4 cups and store the rest away.

Place 1 tbsp of ghee in your cooking pan and bring to medium-high heat.

Once the pan is hot, add the kabocha squash. Sauté for about 5-7 minutes, stirring the squash every 30-60 seconds. Kabocha squash burns easily, so don’t forget to rotate it. The goal is to get it browned and crispy without burning it. When you see the brown color creeping up the sides of the squash, rotate it. Even just 15-30 seconds too long without rotating the squash can burn it.

When the kabocha squash is done, salt it to taste. Remove it from the pan and place it in a bowl to cool.

cuban pork rice bowls

Make the bacon.

Chop up the bacon into thin slivers (like 1/4 inch x 1 inch).

At medium heat, cook the bacon.

Once the bacon is cooked to your liking, remove it from the pan and place it on a plate to cool.

Fry the plantains.

Slice the plantains into thin slivers.

Turn the pan with the bacon fat to medium-high heat.

Add a tbsp of ghee to the pan to ensure the plantains have enough oil to fry in.

Once the pan is hot, fry the plantains in the bacon fat-ghee. The goal is to char them and get them as brown as possible without them turning black/burning. I usually flip them every 20-30 seconds or so, going through a few rounds.

cuban pork rice bowls

Prepare the cilantro and lime.

Finely chop the fresh cilantro and slice the lime into quarters.

Put it all together.

In each pork bowl, place the pulled pork, bacon, plantains, and kabocha squash.

Top each bowl with fresh lime juice and garnish with chopped cilantro. If you prefer, you can top your bowl with the orange juice from the pulled pork.

Enjoy! These bowls are best enjoyed fresh, although leftovers can be stored in the fridge and are good for 1-2 days.

cuban pork rice bowls

cuban pork rice bowls

Tips to make the best Cuban Pork ‘Rice’ Bowls

  • Kabocha squash burns quickly at medium-high heat. When sauteing the squash, make sure you rotate it frequently. The goal is to get to a nice golden brown color and not burn it. When you see the brown color coming up the sides of the squash, rotate it. Even just 15-30 seconds too long without rotating the squash can burn it. Same goes for the plantains.

cuban pork rice bowls

Some more of my favorite dinner ideas:

Loaded Burger Bowls

Tropical Taco Bowls

Chicken Bacon Tacos

Cobb ‘Salad’ with Duck Fat Ranch Dressing

Simple Oxtail Soup

Cuban Pork ‘Rice’ Bowls

cuban pork rice bowls

 

Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Cuban Pork "Rice" Bowls

With crispy kabocha squash instead of rice and bacon instead of beans, these bowls are a spin on the classic. The plantains are fried in bacon fat and the pork shoulder is pressure-cooked in orange juice. Clean and simple without sacrificing taste.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
10 mins
Total Time2 hrs 10 mins
Food Type: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Diet Preference: AIP, Dinner, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Lunch, Nightshade-Free, Nut-Free, Paleo
Servings: 4 bowls
Author: Ashley Rothstein

Equipment

  • Cooking Pan
  • Instant Pot or slow cooker

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs pork shoulder
  • 12 oz freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 10 strips bacon
  • 3-4 cups kabocha squash
  • 3 plantains
  • grass-fed ghee (or butter) (for cooking the kabocha squash)
  • finely chopped fresh cilantro (to taste)
  • fresh lime juice (to taste)
  • sea salt (to taste)

Instructions

Start the pork.

  • If you're working with one large slab of pork shoulder, cut it into 4-5 pieces.
  • Rub the pulled pork pieces with sea salt (ASHLEYR for 15% off), plus whatever other spices you prefer to use. (I don't use any spices, and it comes out great!)
  • In your Instant Pot or on the stovetop, sear all sides of the pork shoulder pieces until brown. For the Instant Pot, use the Saute function. For the stovetop, use medium-high heat.
  • Place the seared pork pieces in the Instant Pot or slow cooker. Add the freshly squeezed orange juice.
  • For the Instant Pot, cook on High Pressure for 60 minutes with 20 minutes slow release. For the slow cooker, cook on low for 8 hours.

Make the kabocha squash.

  • Dice the kabocha squash into 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Measure out 3-4 cups and store the rest away.
  • Place 1 tbsp of ghee in your cooking pan and bring to medium-high heat.
  • Once the pan is hot, add the kabocha squash. Sauté for about 5-7 minutes, stirring the squash every 30-60 seconds. Kabocha squash burns easily, so don't forget to rotate it. The goal is to get it browned and crispy without burning it. When you see the brown color creeping up the sides of the squash, rotate it. Even just 15-30 seconds too long without rotating the squash can burn it.
  • When the kabocha squash is done, salt (ASHLEYR for 15% off) it to taste. Remove it from the pan and place it in a bowl to cool.
  • Note: if you go through tons of salt in your household like we do, check out this salt purchasing hack that will save you money + make things more efficient. We started this last year, and I'm so happy we did!

Make the bacon.

  • Chop up the bacon into thin slivers (like 1/4 inch x 1 inch).
  • At medium heat, cook the bacon.
  • Once the bacon is cooked to your liking, remove it from the pan and place it on a plate to cool.

Fry the plantains.

  • Slice the plantains into thin slivers.
  • Turn the pan with the bacon fat to medium-high heat.
  • Add a tbsp of ghee to the pan to ensure the plantains have enough oil to fry in.
  • Once the pan is hot, fry the plantains in the bacon fat-ghee. The goal is to char them and get them as brown as possible without them turning black/burning. I usually flip them every 20-30 seconds or so, going through a few rounds.

Prepare the cilantro and lime.

  • Finely chop the fresh cilantro and slice the lime into quarters.

Put it all together.

  • In each pork bowl, place the pulled pork, bacon, plantains, and kabocha squash.
  • Top each bowl with fresh lime juice and garnish with chopped cilantro. If you prefer, you can top your bowl with the orange juice from the pulled pork.
  • Enjoy! These bowls are best enjoyed fresh, although leftovers can be stored in the fridge and are good for 1-2 days.

 

What I used for this recipe:

Looking for other dinner ideas? Try one of these:

Loaded Burger Bowls

Tropical Taco Bowls

Chicken Bacon Tacos

Cobb ‘Salad’ with Duck Fat Ranch Dressing

Simple Oxtail Soup

Note: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means that if you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting me!

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Ashley Rothstein
Ashley Rothstein

Ashley Rothstein develops tasty, whole food, animal-based, fat-filled recipes that include a moderate amount of minimally toxic plant foods. To fix her own health issues, she bounced around between the carnivore, keto, and paleo diets for a few years. After experiencing and studying each diet philosophy, she learned she feels her best by merging the three and following an animal-based diet with time-restricted feeding. As a glut at heart, she likes to channel her creativity and create meals that are healthy but also satisfy her inner gluttonous spirits.

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4 Comments

  1. Colette
    May 17, 2021 / 11:56 pm

    5 stars
    These Cuban pork bowls were a huge hit at our family party. My whole family started an animal-based diet and I was looking for something exciting after cooking my meat the same way every single day. The pork in this dish was phenomenal and the bowl left me feeling full, satisfied, and not bloated!!!

  2. Christian
    May 18, 2021 / 6:27 pm

    I absolutely love these! its become a staple in my weeks lineup. The bananas are to die for, slightly caramelized, so versatile. Definitely worth trying out.

  3. Sarah
    September 19, 2022 / 11:59 pm

    5 stars
    My husband and I aren’t keto or carnivore (I was just looking for a recipe to use up a kabocha squash I picked up at the market) and we LOVED this dish. The simple seasonings really brought out the natural flavors of all the food and it we loved the unique combination of flavors. Definitely a keeper recipe!

    • Ashley Rothstein
      Author
      September 20, 2022 / 2:20 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it! This recipe is one of my favorites from the blog. 🙂

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