not just ketchup, but ketchup with a bit of a kick! Ketchup that doesn’t require bushels of farm-fresh tomatoes. Ketchup that you can make at home without too much bother – except mebbe for having a splatter screen. Ketchup where the most adventuresome ingredient is Angostura Bitters – which, by the way, will set you back a pretty penny; but still…
I got a bunch of cookbooks for Christmas, one being Jim Fobel’s Big Flavors, where I found this recipe for hot and spicy ketchup. To be honest, he had me at hot and spicy, but I was lovin’ the simplicity of the recipe as well; no peeling and seeding of tomatoes required, just open a can of tomato paste and get to work.
•18 oz tomato paste
•1/2 cup sugar
•2 tsp salt
•1-1/2 tsp celery salt
•1-1/2 tsp Cayenne – feel free to use less if you like, mebbe 1/2 tsp for a milder ‘sup
•1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
•1/4 tsp ground cloves
•2/3 cup vinegar – Mr. Fobel didn’t specify, so I used cider vinegar
•1-1/2 cup water
•1-1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
•2 tsp Angostura bitters – look for this in the liquor department of your market
Combine the tomato paste with the spices in a tall, non-reactive pot – I used my 8 quart stock pot. This is a good time to recall a bit of wisdom from Julia Child: always start out with a larger pot than what you think you need. You will want those tall sides to contain exploding molten bits o’ tomato goo while cooking, trust me.
Gradually stir in the vinegar, and then the water, Worcestershire sauce, and the bitters.
Bring to a boil, stirring often, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 or 20 minutes (still stirring – burnt tomato product on the bottom of a pan is not a good thing), until the mixture thickens.
That is it, you’ve made ketchup!
All that’s left is to transfer your ‘sup into the container(s) of your choice and set aside on the counter to cool. Mr. Fobel said that this recipe yielded 3-1/2 pints – I ended up with 2, but that’s a quibble.
Once your ketchup has cooled, cover and stash it in the fridge for at least 2 days to mellow a bit before using.
Mr. Fobel notes that, due to the high vinegar content, this should be fine for several months in the fridge – so you will be well rewarded for your efforts with a decent and lasting supply of ‘sup. I’m thinkin’ that you could process it so that it would be shelf stable until opened, but am not certain how that would affect those 2 days of mellowing.
I made my batch on Friday, so had to wait until Sunday to try out the fruits of my labor.
Only thing was, we were going to be in the city with friends. No worries! I brought along a bit o’ my now ready-to-sample stash and requested that we lunch at a ketchup-friendly establishment. We ended up at Athena in Greektown – who serve up an awfully nice octopus salad, but for this the purpose of this particular visit, also do a very pleasant cheeseburger.
My, was it tasty! And the ketchup? YUM! Rich, thick, tomato-y goodness with a nice little kick from the Cayenne; as good on the burger as it was on the (not really crispy at all, but still OK) fries. I was a happy man, filled with the bounty of lunch and good ketchup.