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Liberty Bar's Pork Chops with Salsa Chile Guajillo and White Rice

2 medium tomatoes (or 7-8 tomatillos)
12 guajillo chiles
3 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 C. hot water
2 T. lard (or bacon drippings)
1/2 medium white onion, chopped
1 T. salt (or to taste)

White Rice:
1 1/2 C, white rice
1/3 C. olive oil
1/3 carrot, peeled and sliced
2 T. peas
1/3 medium white onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 1/2 C. well-salted chicken broth

Pork Chops:
olive oil, as needed
4 pork chops (center rib or loin, about 1 inch thick)
salt and pepper to taste

For Salsa:
Roast tomatoes on a grill, dry comál or cast-iron frying pan until softened throughout. Toast the chiles briefly, if desired, then remove stems and seeds. Soak chiles, garlic and bay leaf in hot water for approximately 15 minutes, placing a plate on top to keep them immersed. In a blender, purée the chiles and garlic along with their soaking water. Set the bay leaf aside. When smooth, add tomatoes and pulse to blend; be careful not to overblend. Heat lard in a frying pan, add onion and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes. Add puréed chile/tomato mixture, the bay leaf and salt to taste. Cook about 15 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring frequently. (The sauce can be made up ahead and reheated. Extra sauce can be refrigerated for several days or frozen for future use.) Remove bay leaf when you are ready to serve the sauce.

Makes about 2 cups.

For White Rice:
Pour warm water over rice and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse well with cold water; drain well. Heat oil over high heat in a deep pot. Add rice, carrots and peas. Stir until evenly coated with oil. Fry until rice begins to brown. Add onion and garlic; fry until translucent, about 3 minutes more. This process should take about 10 minutes. If it takes longer, the heat is not high enough and the rice will be mushy. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 10 minutes more or until rice has absorbed the broth.

For Pork Chops:
Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chops to pan and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Turn and cook on second side for 1 minute. Reduce heat, cover and cook pork chops until they reach an internal temperature of 150°F, about 4 minutes more. Serve topped with guajillo salsa, accompanied by white rice.

Makes 4 servings.

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