Simple, Flexible and Damn Delicious!
This spicy tomato ketchup recipe is great… As well as being delicious, it’s fresh, colourful and can be adapted to include more or less of any of the ingredients depending on what you fancy. Just don’t leave out the tomatoes. The best thing about this recipe is the end result and the complete lack of effort that goes into it.
So many recipes I’ve seen online (particularly American ones), call for tomato puree (or paste as they call it), or tinned tomatoes. This one is completely fresh and all your own work, there just isn’t much work involved. There’s really nothing easier than making your own ketchup and you can put in as much or as little effort as you like.
As with any fresh sauce, while it will keep for a few weeks in a sealed jar somewhere cool and dark, once opened, it needs to go in the fridge and it’s best to use it within a few days. With this in mind, maybe pot up into small jars. If you’re knocking up a big old batch, you could even put into freezer bags for use later on. This recipe will make approximately 1.5 litres of Ketchup, which may be way more than you want, so you could easily halve it.
Let’s get cracking…
2kg Mixed Fresh Tomatoes (leave some of the stalks on)
2 Medium Red Onions
A handful of basil leaves (stalks included)
4 Decent Size Garlic Cloves
1 Dorset Naga Chilli
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbsp Good Olive Oil
1 Pinch of Flaked Sea Salt
1 Pinch of coarsely ground Black Pepper
1 Tbsp of Brown Sugar (optional)
- Set your oven to 200ºC/180ºC Fan
- Peel the onions and chop into quarters/eighths
- Wash the tomatoes and chop larger ones into chunks
- Tear off a handful of basil
- Peel the garlic cloves
- Wash the chilli(s)
- Chuck it all in a roasting pan
- Pour over two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
- Add a table spoon of good Olive Oil
- Add a pinch of flaked sea salt and a pinch of coarsely ground black pepper
- If you are going to use the Brown Sugar, add that too
- Toss it all up/stir it around with your fingers or a spoon – chef’s choice
Tomatoes… I like to use tomatoes with the deepest, strongest flavour. Consider including some green under ripe tomatoes, for that little bit of tartness. Also, leave some of the stalks on the tomatoes. There is some really deep flavour in them. Obviously you wouldn’t eat them raw, but they are going to be roasted and blended up and then sieved.
When your oven is up to temperature, put your roasting pan in and roast for 45 minutes. Everything should be browned off nicely. If they aren’t, give them a bit longer. Many recipes just go straight for the hob, but it’s the roasting that makes this ketchup so good. That’s what brings out the sweetness and the depth of flavour.
Transfer all of the roasted ingredients to a saucepan. Put on a low heat and stir. The tomatoes will start to break down and turn into a chunky sauce. Stir for about 5 minutes or until all the tomatoes have broken down. Now is your chance to taste and add additional seasoning if desired.
Pour your chunky sauce into a blender and wazz it up until all the lumps are gone. You’ll never get rid of the seeds by blending, so sieve the ketchup into a large jug. if you’re happy with the consitency, transfer to jars, tubs, bags or whatever…
Your ketchup is unlikely to be as thick as the bottled stuff you buy in the supermarket and that’s to be expected. This largely depends on how juicy your tomatoes were. As the sauce cools, it will thicken slightly. If you would rather it was a bit thicker, the easiest way to achieve this is to simply put it back on the hob and reduce it. Keep an eye on it and stir, leaving the lid off. Once you’re happy that the sauce is thick enough, you’re ready to bottle/jar it.
Leave it to cool on the side before you put it in the fridge or freezer.
If you want to play around with the recipe a bit, here are a few substitutions you could try…
Maybe switch out the black pepper for Szechuan pepper.
If you like garlic, double the dose. Triple it that’s your thing. I love it, especially when it roasted. This makes it sweeter and gives a deep flavour.
Basil – If you like basil, add more. If you want to make a slightly more Italian tasting sauce, add a teaspoon of oregano.
Sub out the balsamic vinegar for Worcestershire sauce.
I’ve used Dorset Naga Chillies which I froze last year. You could use more to go hotter, or sub out the Naga for a different sort of chilli. I love the Dorset Naga taste, but in the past I’ve used Scotch Bonnets (as shown in the picture), Trinidad Scorpions and Jalapeños. One Naga will give this sauce a real kick. For a real beast if you’re a bit of a hot head, you could use two. If you’re catering for a mixture of pallets, you could just use half a chilli or go for a much milder one, or if it’s not your thing, just leave it out.
You could adapt this recipe in so many ways… sub out the basil for some a couple of cloves, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme and a splash of rum and give your ketchup a Caribbean twist.
Add some fresh coriander, a bit of cumin, change the chilli to Jalapeño, add the zest and juice of a lime and take things in a tangy Mexican direction.
Add some smoked paprika to give that bit of smokiness and substitute the chilli for a couple of dried smoked chipotles. Maybe switch the brown sugar for a tablespoon of treacle.
With the latest batch, I even took a portion out, added some chicken stock to it and made a pretty damn nice, albeit bloody spicy soup.
All just suggestions. The recipe is so flexible that you can add or leave out any of the ingredients you choose. Except the bloody tomatoes. Don’t forget them.
This recipe is dedicated to Karen Rees… as she asked us to share it. 😉