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The confident cook

Recipe: Marinate pork chops with mustard, then grill them beside juicy tomatoes

Lean pork on the grill can be tricky. You want to end up with juicy meat, but there’s little to protect it from the blazing coals. Pork loin chops still on the bone have the best protection from the heat because they’ve got bone on two sides and a very thin rim of fat along the curved edge. Add a marinade of mustard, herbs, lemon, and oil, let it sit on the meat uncovered in the fridge, and the mixture forms a delicious coating later. It’s not a sweet shiny glaze, but a savory, tangy taste that goes beautifully with the delicate pork.

You need a high-quality Dijon mustard and plenty of fresh herbs. Use what you have — rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, sage — and mix them together with the mustard, lemon rind, and enough olive oil to make a paste. You can refrigerate the chops with their coating for a couple of hours or overnight (try it on chicken, too). Cook the chops on one side of the grill and set large, halved tomatoes on the other. The tomato skins will pull away from the flesh, which is the moment you turn them to cook them on their cut sides. Then sprinkle everything with more herbs. The dish is aromatic and summery and full of delicious, smoky juices. SHERYL JULIAN

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Mustard-glazed grilled pork chops with grilled tomatoes

Serves 4

1clove garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
2tablespoons olive oil
4tablespoons Dijon mustard
Grated rind of 1 lemon
3tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, sage)
4bone-in pork loin chops, ½-inch thick (about 8 ounces each)
Vegetable oil (for the grill)
4large tomatoes
Olive oil (for sprinkling)
Extra sprigs fresh rosemary, thyme, and oregano (for garnish)
1lemon, cut into wedges (for serving)

1. On a board, sprinkle the garlic with a pinch of salt. Use a small blunt knife to rub the salt into the garlic until it turns into a paste.

2. In a bowl, combine the garlic and olive oil. Stir well. Add the mustard, lemon rind, 2 tablespoons of the herbs, and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir until thoroughly combined.

3. Pat the pork chops dry and spread both sides with the mustard mixture. Set in a baking dish so the chops do not overlap. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 2 to 24 hours (don’t cover at all during that time).

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4. Let the pork chops sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.

5. Heat a charcoal grill or turn a gas grill to medium-high. Brush the grill rack to clean it. With wadded paper towels, quickly brush the grates with vegetable oil.

6. Halve the tomatoes through their stem ends (leave the cores intact). Sprinkle the cut sides of the tomatoes with olive oil and with your hands, rub the oil all over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

7. Sprinkle the chops on both sides with olive oil. Set them on the grill; add the tomatoes, cut sides up. Cover the grill and cook 5 minutes. When the skins on the tomatoes have pulled away, it’s time to turn them. Turn the chops, cover, and continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the pork registers 140 degrees; the temperature will rise 5 degrees as the chops rest.

8. Transfer the chops and tomatoes to a platter or serving board. Let them sit for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon herbs, garnish with the herb sprigs, and serve with lemon. Sheryl Julian


Sheryl Julian can be reached at sheryl.julian@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @sheryljulian.