I was up to my elbows in frozen meat and stock doing an inventory of our freezer when I found out we were hosting dinner later that day. My wife asked what we should make I joked hamburgers since four pounds of ground grass fed beef was one of the things I had already located. My wife surprised my saying it was a great idea. She thought we could do a simple dinner with a build your own burger (BYOB) theme. Nothing fancy.
For some reason my wife started to roll her eyes when I started to make homemade ketchup. I think she said something like “I should have known…” I had been wanting to make ketchup for a while and now I had a great excuse. Add homemade mayo (you should really do this too even my wife admitted its superiority), “kids guacamole” (aka mashed up avocado with citrus), sauteed onions and mushrooms, bacon, mustard and pickles rounded out the offerings. For the burgers I’m a purest. They only get gray salt and pepper and, in this case, sharp cheddar though I will often forgo even that. Nothing fancy.
28 ounce can of tomatoes (I used whole but it was in the cupboard)
1 medium onion chopped
1 garlic clove sliced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
half a star anise
few dried porcinis
1/2 c dark brown sugar
1/4 c cider vinegar (more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
Sweat the onions in the olive oil with the star anise (this is a Blumenthal trick and I am digging it). When they are translucent add the puree, garlic, and herbs and spices and disperse. Then add the remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer, and cook slowly for about an hour or until nice and thick. Let it cool a bit and carefully blend and then pass through a strainer. Mine was still a bit runny so I put it back on the stove and cooked it down more. I should add that having things like dried porcinis and whole spices on hand and herbs in the garden make this kind of thing a snap and a bit of an improvisation. The result was a delicious ketchup with a lot more complexity and depth than anything you will find in a bottle. Go ahead, give it a try!