Sunday, March 20, 2011

Recipe: Chipotle Ketchup. Hot and Spicy!

Blessed relief for Mother and the other women in the household! – Heinz slogan when it introduced its commercial version of ketchup in 1876

Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, it took me three tries before I was happy with this recipe.
Photo: weiglen, Flickr ccl
When I first chose to post this recipe I decided, as always, to give some background. My assumptions about its origin were all wrong. I thought I would be going to India, and most probably the Raj period, when the English brought home so many other exotic ingredients and influences. Nope…

In the 17th Century Dutch and British explorers discovered a salty pickled fish sauce called 'ketsiap' in China, but it was more akin to today's fish sauce than what we think of as “ketchup.” When the recipe arrived in Europe variations quickly followed with ingredients such as mushrooms, oysters, and walnuts. I believe I have recipes for all three although I haven’t tried them yet.

The first ketchup recipe was printed in 1727 in a publication called The Compleat Housewife. The ingredients list included anchovies, shallots, vinegar, white wine, cloves, ginger, mace, nutmeg, pepper and lemon peel. But no tomatoes.

Making ketchup. Photo: tamaki, Flickr ccl
Around 1800 the first tomato ketchup recipe was published in Nova Scotia by James Mease. Recipes continued to change and be modified, most usually using mushrooms in Britain and tomatoes in North America. The marketing of ketchup quickly developed with many small producers selling their own variations on the tomato based recipe. 

A revolution in defining ketchup came in 1872 when H.J. Heinz added ketchup to his manufacturing line and introduced it at the Philadelphia World’s Fair. Heinz Ketchup has not changed since, and is the gold standard against which all other ketchups are judged.

It  is unknown when it became the preferred condiment for less than healthy fried food and hamburgers. Ketchup actually does have health benefits from the tomatoes which contain lycopene, an antioxidant known to reduce cancer risk.

The version below contains chipotle peppers in adobo. They are available canned in the Mexican section of the grocery store. You can increase or decrease the amount of heat in your finished product by the amount of seeds you leave in the peppers. I have found out that half the seeds is about right.

Photo: Rachel Tayse, Flickr ccl
Chipotle Chilli Ketchup
Prep: 10 min  | Cook: 60 min

2 tbsp canola oil
2 large red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
5-6 large Roma (or other Italian) tomatoes, fresh, chopped
1/3 cup vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup chipotles in adobo, chopped

Heat oil in a heavy saucepan or dutch oven. Add the red peppers, onions, garlic and tomatoes. Allow to cook over medium heat until they are very soft. This will take from 5-10 minutes.

Add the vinegar and sugar. Cook on medium low for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and transfer to a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Add the chopped (and seeded as you wish) chipotles. Purée again until smooth.

Return to the pan and simmer on low for 30 minutes longer. Place in bottles or jars and refrigerate.

As stated above, I leave in about half the seeds. That is from experience. The first year I left all in and it was unbelievably hot; the next year I took out all seeds and it was not hot enough. The third year with half the seeds was “just right”, a lot like Goldilocks I guess…


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