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Grilled Pork Chops with Moroccan Tomato Jam

In Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco, Paula Wolfert has recipes for two tagines in which lamb or chicken is simmered with tomatoes and cinnamon.  After the meat is cooked, it is removed from the pot, and the tomatoes are cooked down until they are very thick.  At the end honey or sugar is added to make a luscious sweet tomato jam in which the meats are reheated. 

Inspired by these recipes, we made the sweet tomato-cinnamon jam separately and served it on top of grilled pork chops.  Really, the pork chops are just an excuse for the jam.  It is also incredible with grilled or broiled chicken, salmon, shrimp, and lamb chops. 

Consider adding cinnamon to any tomato sauce, homemade or otherwise.  It adds a sultry warmth to the sauce, creating subtle layers of unexpected flavor. 

Serves 4 

Ingredients for the jam:

(Makes about one cup of jam)

3 pounds plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup grated onion
1 tablespoon grated garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 4-inch stick Indonesian cassia
Salt and finely ground white pepper, to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons honey
Ground cassia (optional)

Method:

1. With a sharp paring knife, score the bottom of each tomato with an X.   Bring a medium pot of water to boil.  Drop 4 or 5 tomatoes at time into the boiling water for 12 seconds.  Remove with a slotted spoon or wire-mesh strainer.  Slip the skins off the tomatoes and core them.  Cut in half and squeeze out the juice and seeds.  Place in a bowl and set aside.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and fry until it is soft and translucent, about 4-5 minutes.  Add the garlic, ginger and cinnamon stick and fry for 2 minutes longer.
3. Add the tomatoes and any accumulated juices in the bottom of the bowl.  Stir well and raise the heat to medium high, until the mixture is gently bubbling.  Cook until the tomatoes have reduced to a thick puree and most of the juice as evaporated, about 1 hour.  Watch carefully.  Stir and adjust the heat as needed to keep the tomato mixture from scorching.
4. Add salt and white pepper to taste.  Add 3 tablespoons of honey.  Lower the heat to medium low and continue to cook gently for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the jam is very thick and all the liquid has been absorbed.  Remove the cinnamon stick.  Taste and correct seasonings, adding the remaining tablespoon of honey and a pinch of powdered cinnamon if desired.

Ingredients for the pork chops:

4 pork loin chops
Olive oil
Garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Method for the pork chops:

1. Rub the pork chops with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Set aside.
2. Heat charcoal in a grill until the flames are low and the coals are covered with white ash.
3. Place the pork chops on the grill and cook, covered, for 3 to 4 minutes per side.
4. Remove and allow to rest for 10 minutes, loosely covered with aluminum foil.
5. Serve each pork chop with a generous spoonful of tomato jam.

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