‘I need my sauces to be like a bad relationship. Initially sweet but intensely bitter after a while…’
Nothing is better than Heinz. I’ve sung its praises more than once on this blog – in fact, Heinz squirted liberally on a pork pie straight from the fridge is my weakness – and I have always attained that nothing is better than the branded red stuff. And that is still true, but one thing that definitely holds its own in an entirely different way is my homemade Balsamic Ketchup.
The component that should be at most present in a sauce is acidity. It’s because sauce is supposed to be an accompaniment to a meal, cutting through all the other flavours. Acidity is something that isn’t featured in a lot of our most popular meal ingredients i.e. meat, vegetables, carbohydrates – therefore if you’re using a sauce, acidity is key so that you really feel it’s presence amongst the ingredients it’s draping.
This is why jarred mayonnaise will only ever be a ‘combiner’ ingredient for me and I use it for creamy texture as opposed to the flavour, because jar or bottled mayonnaise never has the acid spike I need. I need my sauces to be like a bad relationship. Initially sweet but intensely bitter after a while. But this Balsamic Ketchup has that perfect spike you want when all you’re looking for is for your taste buds to get jolted.
Squeeze 30g of tomato puree into a small(ish) saucepan but don’t turn on the heat. Add 1 mug of cold water to this followed by 80ml of any balsamic vinegar. To this twist in some fresh black pepper and a generous sprinkle of sea salt. Finally, sprinkle in about teaspoon of some dark brown sugar and grate in a garlic clove. Whisk all this together before turning the hob on to a medium heat.
When the mix starts to bubble, not intensely but just a medium simmer, drop the heat to low and give it a stir now and then. Allow this to bubble for about 15-20 minutes before removing from the heat altogether. Allow it to cool all by itself before transferring to some kind of container with a lid and chuck in the fridge,
When cooled and jarred it can keep up to a week and I promise it gets more intense as it sits, which is a beautiful bonus. While it’s only a ketchup, I have been known to squirt this all over a salad – and when I tell you that it’s good drizzled over your bacon sandwich, you’re just going to have to believe me on it. No it’s not Heinz – nor does it want to be – but it’s a fantastic addition to your fridge to sit by its side for when you want a little more ‘grown up spike’ on your plate.