Tomato & Pomegranate Ketchup

I’ve spent the last couple of days developing recipes for Pickle & Smoke, curing rabbit, salting and pickling various things. This ketchup was a late addition, as I wanted to replace the rejigged bought stuff we had been using before.

House-made ketchup has become pretty common in cafés and gastropubs, in a form that’s now almost as standardised as Heinz – based, I think, on the excellent recipe in the River Cottage preserves book, it is a roast tomato passata that gets spiced, seasoned and reduced. This results in a sort of relish, which is delicious in its own way but a little wholesome, and not much like the glossy, sweet sauce that everyone secretly loves. It also takes bloody ages to make, what with roasting and puréeing and boiling and passing and reducing.

I wanted something a bit more Heinz-y, a bit trashier, for Pickle & Smoke, so I though I’d try the recipe in Marc Grossman’s New York Cult Recipes, which is basically a stock thickened with tomato purée and cornflour. The result is satisfyingly shiny, triggering that gastronomic nostalgia, with the added bonus that you can add whatever else takes your fancy, at either the stock or thickening stage. A bit of messing around yielded this, heavily adapted from Grossman –

About 2 litres, but it should keep well. Easily halvable, anyhow.

For the stock –
2 sticks of celery
1 onion
6 garlic
1 carrot
1 tblspn smoked paprika
1 tsp allspice
900 ml water
400 ml pickle juice (I had some left over – half and half water and lemon, with a splash of vinegar and some salt and sugar. You could just use water and up the seasonings later.)

Finely dice the vegetables and sweat in a little oil until the onions turn translucent and soften slightly. Add the spices and cook, stirring, until they lose that raw smell. Add the liquids, bring to the boil, and simmer for 10 minutes or so. Strain, discarding the spent vegetables, and make the stock up to 1300ml with some water if it’s reduced too much.

For the ketchup –
The stock
280g tomato purée (2 of those little tins)
250g caster sugar
4 tblspns pomegranate molasses
1 tblspn really hot hot sauce, or to taste. (I used a home-made West Indian style one with loads of scotch bonnets in it)
2 tblspns mustard powder
4 tblspns cornflour
400ml white wine vinegar

Put the stock in a pan with the purée, sugar, molasses and hot sauce and bring to a steady simmer, whisking as you go. Let it bubble away for about 5 minutes, giving it a stir occasionally.

Beat the mustard powder and cornflour into the vinegar, making sure there are no lumps, then add to the pan. Simmer for another 5 minutes or so until nicely thickened. If you didn’t use pickle juice, it’ll need a fair bit of salt, so give it a taste, remembering that it’ll be less aggressively sweet when it’s cold, and that inhaling hot vinegar is not fun.

Done. Put into bottles or jars or whatever (you should do the sterilising thing if you want it to keep for ages) and you have minor gifts sorted for the next year. Or keep to yourself for secret chicken nugget feasts.