Why This Recipe Works: Peppercorns, mustard seeds, bay leaves, and allspice are pretty standard fare for most homemade ketchup recipes, but we wanted to develop a recipe for a more complex, interesting take on ketchup with the addition of chipotle chiles. Cloves are said to be the “secret ingredient” in top commercial brands of the sweet tomato-based condiment, so we added cinnamon to accentuate the spice. For a smoky backbone without too much heat, we added chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce. Having developed a flavor that we liked, we focused on texture. In order to achieve a silky smooth consistency, we strained our mixture through a fine-mesh strainer. Without a little help the thick puree had a hard time passing through the strainer; pressing the back of a ladle into the sieve helped to extract as much ketchup as possible.
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 1-1 1/2 hours
Yield: two 1-cup jars
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1/4 teaspoon allspice berries
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
3 3/4 pounds tomatoes, cored and chopped coarse
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1. Bundle bay leaves, peppercorns, mustard seeds, cloves, cinnamon stick, and allspice in cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine to secure; set aside.
2. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook, scraping bottom of pot, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
3. Transfer mixture to blender, add chipotles and half of tomatoes, and process until smooth puree, about 30 seconds; transfer to bowl. Process remaining tomatoes in blender until smooth, about 30 seconds; transfer to bowl with pureed mixture.
4. Working in batches, strain pureed mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over now-empty pot, pressing firmly on solids with ladle to extract as much tomato pulp as possible; discard solids.
5. Stir in vinegar, sugar, salt, and spice sachet and bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer vigorously, stirring occasionally and scraping bottom of pot, until mixture has thickened, darkened in color, and measures slightly more than 2 cups, 30 minutes to 1 hour. (Ketchup will continue to thicken as it cools.)
6. Discard spice sachet and let ketchup cool slightly. Using funnel and spoon, portion ketchup into two 1-cup jars, then let cool to room temperature. Cover, refrigerate, and serve. (Ketchup can be refrigerated for up to 2 months.)