Leftover pulled pork Spanish rice with corn and roasted hatch chilies is the perfect comfort food dish. So easy to whip up, and kids of all ages will devour it every time you make it! Find more leftover pulled pork recipes here.
Yes, I have another fabulous way to use up leftover pulled pork! One of the cheapest cuts of meat you can buy is a monster size pork shoulder roast. And since we are feeding 3 teenagers in this house, I make that shredded pork go a long way.
We have made pulled pork tacos and pulled pork mac and cheese. When we have carnitas for dinner, their favorite way to eat it is with this delicious tomato rice you enjoy at Mexican restaurants. It’s like a burrito bowl with all of your favorite burrito fillings. And the best thing about this dish, besides how budget friendly it is, is how easy it is to make it.
Carnitas vs pulled pork
Shredded pork isn’t just a favorite in American cuisine. Carnitas is basically the Mexican version of this dish. Carnitas in Spanish translates to “little meats” and is a quintessential pork dish in Mexican cuisine.
It is typically slowly braised or roasted for several hours, but it can also be prepared more quickly in a pressure cooker. Many times it is cooked with spices like cumin and, chiles. Like pulled pork, it is made from the pork should shoulder or pork butt, which is nice and fatty.
This fat gives tremendous flavor and moisture to the meat as it cooks. Carnitas tends to be more on the crispy side compared its American counterpart. But my family loves our smoked pulled pork, especially the crispy parts. So our preference is to have the pork shoulder cooked low and slow on the grill than in the slow cooker.
Another favorite way to enjoy pulled pork, or carnitas, is to make oven pulled pork. When the hubs is too busy to man the grill for 6 hours, this is the recipe I turn to for shredded pork goodness. It’s super easy and full of flavor.
Whichever way we make our shredded pork, my kids latest favorite is to enjoy it mixed into this tomato based Mexican rice dish.
Best rice for Spanish rice
Spanish rice is made with long grain rice. Short grain rice, like Jasmine, will get too mushy. I always have basmati rice on hand, so I use that to make this rice dish. You can also use long grain brown rice, but you will need to add about ¼ cup more broth per cup of brown rice and it will have to simmer a bit longer to absorb all the liquid.
When calculating how much rice you will need to feed your family, I use the rule of ¼ cup uncooked rice per person. My kids can certainly eat more, as they are bottomless pits now that they are teenagers, so that number might need adjusting! Also, if you are using it as a side dish, the ¼-cup rule works beautifully. For rice bowls as meals, you might need more.
Many people ask about freezing rice. Yes, you can technically freeze cooked rice. Unfortunately, once thawed and reheated it gets a bit mushy. In my house, there really are no leftovers of this dish so I don’t need to freeze anything!
Why do I toast the rice?
If you are making a rice pilaf, recipes tell you to toast the rice before adding water to cook it. This enhances the flavor of the rice. You want the rice to lightly toast and have a slight golden color and not dark brown or burnt.
Once toasted, you can add the liquid component of your dish. For this Spanish rice, I start with the diced chiles and tomato sauce and mix it in thoroughly before adding the chicken stock.
You can use just water instead of the stock, but again, we are adding layers of flavor. Cooking the pilaf in plain water won’t taste as good as with a chicken or vegetable stock. If you have pork bone broth, you can use that, too.
Once the liquid is added, you want it to just come to boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Now the rice can slowly cook and absorb the liquid. It is always good to let the rice sit for a few minutes once done to finish the cooking process.
The pilaf is delicate now and needs to be fluffed at this point. As you see in the picture below, you need to incorporate all the vegetables back into the rice. Once this is done, add your warm pork (or whatever meat you are using) and dinner is ready!
Other ways to customize your Mexican rice
The red rice pilaf you find at the Mexican restaurants are typically made with tomatoes or tomato sauce. Sometimes there are onions and corn mixed into it as well. I like to add a punch of flavor in my meals, so although the meal is simple to make, it is pretty delicious.
I used tomato sauce in this recipe. You can also use chopped tomatoes, salsa or tomato paste. I give details on these options below in the recipe card. Corn is a must for my family in this tomato rice. You can use frozen kernels or cut the fresh kernels off the cob.
For some extra flavor, I added roasted Hatch chiles. Depending on how spicy you like your food, you can use mild or hot green chiles. If you are like me, you have roasted green chiles in the freezer. You can totally use the canned chiles, too.
If you don’t like it spicy, feel free to add some chopped bell peppers, red, orange or green. If you don’t have leftover pulled pork or carnitas, this dish is excellent with leftover chicken or steak, too. Feel free to swap out the chicken broth and use vegetable broth to make this dish vegetarian.
For toppings, I like to add chopped cilantro, red onions or green onions. If I have ripe avocados available, I like to chop them into chunks and add them to the mix. And don’t forget a squeeze of fresh lime juice – perfection!
- 2 TBS extra olive oil
- ¼ cup chopped onions
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 2 cups long grain rice
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon chile powder
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- 4 oz diced roasted green chiles
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 12 oz shredded pork
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 lime, cut into wedges (optional)
- Heat a large pot over medium-high heat, add olive oil.
- Once the oil is hot add onions and sauté until softened, about 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in corn and continue cooking for another minute or two.
- Add the rice and sauté the rice, stirring frequently until the grains are lightly toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Continue stirring the rice continuously so the rice does not burn.
- Reduce heat to medium and add garlic and sauté briefly, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in salt and spices until rice is coated evenly.
- Stir in roasted chiles and then tomato sauce.
- Once everything is incorporated, slowly pour in the chicken stock.
- Once the liquid begins to boil, cover the pot and reduce to low heat.
- Cook until the all of the liquid is absorbed, about 25-30 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, keep the cover on, and allow the rice to rest for 5 minutes.
- Gently fluff the rice and stir in the shredded pork.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve with lime wedges (optional).
There are a number of ways to customize this dish to your own personal liking.
Instead of tomato sauce, use 2 TBS tomato paste and 6 ounces of water. You can also use 8 oz of your favorite tomato based salsa.
You can also add chopped tomatoes (¾ cup) for more tomato flavor. If you don't like spicy food, you can sauté ¾ cup diced bell peppers with the onions.
Not a fan of cilantro? Top your rice with chopped red onions or green onions.
You can also make this dish with long grain brown rice. Just add an additional ¼ cup of chicken stock for every cup of brown rice. The brown rice will also take additional time to cook, about 15-30 more minutes.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 161Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 1045mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 4g