Cutty's Tomato Jam

Those words above, “try my,” are false advertising in this case. My friend Charles Kelsey developed this jam for a cooking class we taught together at Boston University, so it should really be “Try Charles’s.” Charles and his wife Rachel own Cutty’s sandwich shop in Brookline, MA, where they supercharge their sandwiches with excellent local, seasonal ingredients, unimpeachable food sensibilities, and a keen palate for textures and flavors. This jam was born of their craving for a worthy, early-summer BLT, before the arrival of the great local tomatoes necessary to make BLT magic. This lightly spicy jam has an intense tomato flavor that serves as a fine bridge until then.

Here are two Kelsey BLTJ(am) tips – 1) Mix a little fresh lemon juice into the mayo to help counter the jam’s sweetness, and 2) Smear mayo on the bottom slice of toast, and both the jam and a little more mayo on the top slice. That direct contact between tomato and mayo is too important to overlook.

Makes about 1 ½ cups (or 1 cup strained)

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds Roma tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons cognac or brandy, optional
  • ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 scant cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

1. Combine all the ingredients in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to medium-low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy, 1 to 1 ¼ hours (to prevent scorching, stir more often near the end of cooking). Remove from heat and cool the jam to room temperature. If you like a chunky jam, serve as is. For a smoother texture, proceed to step 2.

2. Set a medium-mesh strainer over a medium nonreactive bowl. Pour the jam into the strainer and stir and press on the solids to extract as much smooth puree as possible (you should have about 1 cup). Discard the solids and serve the smooth jam.