12 April 2013

Homemade Spicy Ketchup

I read something recently that quoted one of my favorite food writers, Jeffery Steingarten, and his opinions on Ketchup.  He basically said that there's Heinz and then there's not as good and Heinz.  If you're looking for a really good, store bought ketchup it is pretty difficult to make an anti-Heinz argument.  It's good stuff.  This homemade ketchup bears no direct relation to Heinz, other than the base ingredients -- tomatoes, vinegar, and sweetener.  Heinz uses corn syrup, I used brown sugar.  That's the main reason for the color difference.  Mine is also a little chunky, just a tad more than a little spicy, and pretty outrageously fantastic (if I do say so myself).  

According the the Wikipedia article on ketchup, a.k.a. catsup, some version if it has been going around since the 1600s.  It's been through lots of changes since then.  We substituted the pickled fish with tomatoes and vinegar.  Americans also thought that tomatoes were poisonous because they are related to deadly Nightshade, so we pretty much only ate them when cooked and pickled so we didn't die.  Boy, oh boy, how the times have changed.  Lots of kids wouldn't know a vegetable or fruit if it hit them in the head, but they all know ketchup.  
I made this with a can of Hunts diced tomatoes with garlic.  Tomatoes aren't in season here yet, and I really wanted to come up with something I could make all year long if I got the urge to cook it up.  Just remember, we aren't aiming for Heinz here -- this is all your own and there's nothing mass produced about it.

Pour your can of tomatoes in a medium saucepan.

Add a bunch of spices.  I used some of my recently made mustard, but you can use store bought if you didn't try out that recipe first.  Simmer away for an hour or so.  Do the dishes, watch Breaking Bad -- that's what I did while mine was cooking.  Just get up every 15 minutes or so to stir it around a bit.

Puree it in a blender, food processor, or with a stick blender.  If you want yours really, really smooth you could put it through a sieve.  I like the little bit of chunkiness, though.  Eat it with some fries, put it on some meatloaf, a hamburger, a hot dog, or anything else that floats your boat.

Homemade Spicy Ketchup
makes about 2 cups

15 oz can Hunt's dices tomatoes with garlic
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp mustard
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp red chile flakes (optional)

Mix all the ingredients together in a medium saucepan.  Heat over medium, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to simmer.  Turn the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, or until the mixture is relatively thick and reduced by about a third.  Let cool for 5 minutes, then puree the mixture in a blender, food processor, or with a stick blender.  Let cool.  Pour into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

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