Mexican Red Tomato Rice

1 (15 oz.) can good-quality whole tomatoes in juice, drained
1/2 small white onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 3/4 C. chicken broth or water
1 1/2 T. olive oil
4 whole tomatoes, unpeeled
1 1/2 C. rice, preferably medium-grain
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/4-inch cubes
Fresh hot green chiles, to taste (roughly 3 serranos or 2 jalapeno peppers), a slit cut down the length of each one
1/4 C. coarsely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 box frozen peas

In a blender or food processor, combine the canned tomatoes with the onion and garlic. Blend to a smooth puree; you should have 1 generous cup. In a small saucepan or in a microwave oven, heat the broth or water until steaming; season to taste with salt.

Lightly oil the fresh tomatoes, place them directly on the cooking grate and grill until skin is lightly charred. When cool, roughly chop and set aside.

In a medium (3-quart) saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the raw rice and stir regularly until the kernels have turned from translucent to milky white, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the tomato mixture and carrots. Stir a couple of times; then let cook until reduced and somewhat dry looking, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the warm broth or water, chiles and parsley; stir thoroughly and scrape down any rice kernels clinging to the side of the pan. Cover pan with lid and place on cooking grate. Cook for 15 minutes or until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Add the peas and grilled tomatoes. Recover pan and cook 5 minutes.

As soon as it is done, gently fluff the rice to release steam and stop the cooking. Serve immediately.

Note: You may remove the chiles if you wish, or pull them out to use as decoration on top of the rice.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.


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