Carnitas and Mexican Rice

While at Whole Foods last weekend, I saved a fellow shopper from consuming shoe leather.  Not literally shoe leather, here’s the story.  I was at the meat counter waiting patiently for my number to be called.  The nice, but meat-challenged lady in front of me was asking the meat man for some pork.  She wanted a boneless chop, ½ inch thick, with the fat cut off.  She then told the butcher she was going to grill it and asked if that cut would be flavorful.  I thought she was joking, but no.  I politely intervened and told her that was not a good plan, unless she wanted to consume the aforementioned shoe leather.  I offered my opinion (she didn’t ask for it), that she may want a thicker bone-in chop instead, with the fat intact.  She took my advice.  Good foodie deed done for the day.  My number was finally called, I picked up my pork butt and went on my merry way. 

Carnitas is a classic Mexican dish of pork slow cooked in lard.  I have enjoyed this at many a restaurant here in San Diego, where there is no shortage of great Mexican food.  I decided to put my own spin on the classic, and instead of using lard, I used bacon fat.  Like a good paleoite, I have been saving bacon drippings in my handy dandy grease holder (refrigerated for safety), for a while now, and I finally put it to good use.  I enlisted the help of my crock pot for this, I didn't have the patience to stand over the stove for 2-3 hours.  As a side dish for the carnitas, I made some mexican "rice", cauliflower with tomatoes and spices.  These two make a great combo.

Carnitas and Mexican Rice
For the Pork:
2.75 lb Pork butt, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 cup Bacon fat, melted
1 Tbls Cumin
1 Tbls Oregano
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Cayenne
Juice of 1 lime
Salt & Pepper

For the Rice:
1 head Cauliflower, riced
1 can fire-roasted diced Tomatoes
1/2 white onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Oregano
Salt & Pepper

Mix spices for pork in small bowl.  Season pork cubes with salt and pepper, and cover with spice mixture.  Pour melted bacon fat in the bottom of your crock-pot, place pork in fat.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, flipping meat after 4 hours.

With 25 minutes left, melt a dollop of coconut oil in a sauce pot over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, jalapeno, saute for 3 minutes.  Add cauliflower, tomatoes and spices.  Let cook for 10 minutes until cauliflower is soft.

Plate rice and pork with a bit of avocado.  Enjoy!