Big Girls, Test Kitchen: Ketchup
Picture this: it’s Sunday (or Saturday). It’s raining or snowing or way too hot to go outside. You’ve watched all the Arrested Developments and 30 Rocks and your Netflix DVDs are stuck in the mail. You’re a little bored but also a little enterprising. You need a recipe project, something time-consuming or unusual, something you wouldn’t ordinarily make, or at least not from scratch. Something that might involve some trial and error–might even not come out perfectly the first time, like ice cream or bread
So, for when you have too much time on your hands and want a recipe that’s been through experimentation and tweaking, check back for Big Girls, Test Kitchen posts. Below, the first:
It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but I’m a ketchup afficionado. It hits the salty, sweet, and tangy notes I can’t resist in my food in my food, and though I’m sure I could do without the high-fructose corn syrup and red dye #5, I figure in small doses, it’s probably okay. However, when you stop eating ketchup with your eggs and start serving an occasional egg (or cauliflower floret) beside your pool of ketchup, it becomes more of a problem.
This really hit with the advent of spring and arrival of fresh dandolien greens, ramps, and asparagus in the market. I tend to make myself a lot of egg scrambles with vegetables when I need a quick and simple dinner, and nothing goes better with those eggs than ketchup. But–and I know this seems kind of ridiculous–I was having these really guilty feelings about pouring supermarket ketchup over the organic greens and eggs the farmers at the market had trekked all the way to Brooklyn to sell me for more than I can afford. I decided that a homemade ketchup would assuage my guilt without depriving me of my condiment.
Plus, I love a project.
In fact, making ketchup turned out to be less of an ordeal than I imagined. I wound up cooking it in my slow cooker overnight, because of timing, but you get the same effect from an hour or two of simmering. And though this doesn’t have the delightful undertones of Artificial Secret Ingredient #1 and Mystery Chemical #2, its saucy, tangy, and sweet-and-sour-ness will satisfy all your Heinzian needs.
From my kitchen, where even the condiments are homemade, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Some of the recipes I looked at called for an entire cabinet of spices, while some stuck with the basics. I took something of a middle road, adding garlic and a pinch of whichever spices looked conducive to creating the hodgepodge taste of ketchup. I figured if I stuck to 1/8 teaspoon measurements, no one taste would be able to reign supreme.
With the exception of the tomato, onion, garlic, sugar, salt, and vinegar, all the ingredients really are optional. Use what you have – it all cooks down together in the end.
Makes about a pint
1 (28 ounce) can tomatoes, preferably fire roasted
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 cup vinegar (I used about 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar, the juice from 1 lemon, and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar; if you’re going to use all one, go for Cider or Red Wine)
pinch each of cinnamon, coriander, cayenne, clove, ground ginger
1 tablespoon raisins or currants
3 sundried tomatoes, minced (or 1 tablespoon tomato paste)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
several grinds of pepper
In a large pot or Dutch oven, saute the onion and garlic in the oil until softened and slightly browned. Add all the rest of the ingredients, bring to a simmer, and cook, partly covered, for about an hour. Cool so you can handle it and then blend on high setting until completely smooth.
Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour before using, then go ahead and smother your grilled cheese sandwiches and sweet potato fries, guilt free.