Monthly Archives: August 2013

Tomato Ketchup Recipe

6 years ago

Straining Ketchup

Making good condiments is a fundamentally cheap and lazy thing to do. Once you have them, even the simplest of snacks can be transformed. If you have 30 minutes free this week, spend it making your own ketchup. It’s easy, lasts ages, and is totally delicious. I don’t even like ketchup that much – I’d usually go for mayonnaise or hot sauce instead (Dunn River Jamaican since you’re asking). I might put it in a bacon sandwich, or occasionally with a sausage – that’s as much facetime as Heinz gets. But this stuff is so fantastically unctuous and zingy that I end up putting it places it really shouldn’t go (like down my shirt).

I take as my base the Hawksmoor Ketchup recipe, which is a pretty simple one. The flavour text (which is excellent throughout their cookbook) is a great exploration on what ketchup can be:

“Until Americans like Henry Heinz got involved and the tomato version stole the show they came in a range of flavours, including mushroom, walnut, onion, cucumber and even beer, many staying true to their fermented fishy origins with the addition of minced anchovies or oysters”

I’m still shy of adding in sea critters for worry of affecting storage potential, although a splash of already-fermented fish sauce should keep just fine, and as I write this I think I’ll try that it my next batch. It makes sense, given its Asian origins and likely name (in Indonesian ‘kecap’ means sauce – most commonly seen in Europe in its sweet soy variant, ‘kecap manis’). Jamie adds fennel (which sounds like a good match given how well star anise fits), Nigel Slater goes for Szechuan peppercorns (definitely a good idea), and I’ve seen smoked chipotle chillis used. All worth trying. But see this as a starting point and diving board into a ketchupy vat of umami deliciousness. For now, let’s keep it vegetarian (hell, it doesn’t happen often) and simple.

Ketchup ingredients

Tomato Ketchup
Recipe Type: Condiment
Cuisine: American
Author: James III
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
How to make an easy, quick tomato ketchup.
  • 1.2kg tinned tomatoes (decent ones if you can)
  • 200g tomato purée
  • 300g tinned pears (apples will do)
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 200g fruit sugar (this is what Hawksmoor use, but a little more brown sugar would be fine, and probably cheaper!)
  • 60g salt
  • 250ml white wine vinegar
  • 8 whole peppercorns
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  1. Add all ingredients except peppercorns, star anise and cloves to a large pan and mix.
  2. Bundle remaining spices into muslin (or similar) and tie with string, and add.
  3. Bring to boil and then drop to simmer for 2 hours (or until it’s quite thick – it will thicken more later), giving the odd stir.
  4. Using a sieve, or preferably a chinois and pestle, push all of the hot ketchup through. This is the most labour intensive step, and probably takes 10-15 minutes.
  5. At this point, if you want to to keep your ketchup for more than a few weeks (before opening), then follow [url href=””]these instructions[/url]. Otherwise, thoroughly clean and immerse 1.5 litres of glass bottles or jars in boiling water for 5 minutes to sterilise.
  6. Fill bottles or jars while still hot (both the ketchup and the glass), put lids on and leave to cool. Finally label and consume.


Bottled Ketchup

Earth-shatteringly Great Five Meat Lasagne

6 years ago

Five-Meat Lasagne

Lasagne is my comfort dish. Rich, deep meaty sauce layered under a mantle of creamy bechamel and curling pasta strata. I have no shame in sharing my choice of ragu-based edible eiderdown with a cartoon cat.

I started the week with a bit of a late summer cold, so didn’t feel much like cooking. I pulled myself together enough to rustle up a version of white bean chilli (which I’ll post later) on Monday, and on Tuesday convinced my better half to cook up her version of lasagne while I sous-cheffed and took notes. I say it’s her version, but I think the 5 meat rider is really down to me. It might seem excessive – the beef with pork mince, the chicken liver, the bacon and chorizo as chorus line. But the liver gives richness to the beef, the bacon helps add some smokiness along with the chorizo (which also gives a little spice and texture), and the pork just helps them all get along. Even Delia’s own version of lasagne only omits the spanish sausage, and blended with plenty of wine and rosemary our protein quintet creates something wonderful.


It’s difficult tying the chef down to a recipe – she prefers things like “add endless pepper” and “mix in enough flour”. If we could afford to, the cheese in the bechamel (of which “you can’t really have enough…perhaps not good if you’re on a diet”), would be solely Italian, subbing the cheddar for more parmesan or pecorino, and maybe even layering in mozzarella, “but that’s just silly”. This is a dish ubiquitous enough to always be a personal thing, but try this recipe and let me know what you think.

[url href=””]Earth-shatteringly Great Five Meat Lasagne[/url]
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Author: [url href=””]James III[/url]
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
  • [img src= “”]
  • 1.3kg beef mince
  • 450g pork mince
  • 350g chicken liver, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 white onions
  • 8 rashers bacon
  • 150g chorizo
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 1 head garlic, crushed
  • 600g tinned tomatoes or passata
  • 200g tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 10g rosemary, finely chopped[br]
  • 250g butter
  • 250g flour
  • 1.3L milk
  • 400g strong cheddar, grated
  • 200g Parmesan, grated[br]
  • 500g lasagne pasta sheets (dry)
[b]The Ragu:[/b][br]
  1. In a large saucepan, fry the bacon, chorizo & onion in olive oil over a medium heat until soft.
  2. Next increase the heat a little and add the beef and pork mince and cook until browned.
  3. Add livers, wine, garlic, tomato concentrate, passata/tinned tomatoes and rosemary, and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  4. Cook for 40 minutes (or as long as you can, up to around 2 hours).
  5. Add dried oregano and season to taste.[br][br]
[b]Bechamel sauce (make while the ragu is cooking):[/b][br]
  1. In another medium saucepan, melt the butter over a medium-high heat.
  2. Add ‘enough’ flour to make a paste (in our case, around 200g-250g), stirring all the time with a wooden spoon.
  3. Once it is an even consistency, begin slowly adding milk, constantly stirring.
  4. Add parmesan (saving a handful for on top), cheddar, a little salt and ‘endless black pepper’. I think this measures around 4 tablespoons.
  5. Cook until it thickens into a white sauce – it should be as thick as cold custard. This will take around 20 minutes.[br][br]
  1. [img src= “”/]
  2. Pre-heat oven to 180C.
  3. Add layer of lasagna pasta into a large (30cmx40cm) baking pan in whatever tessellated pattern pleases you best.
  4. Ladle over bechamel sauce to well cover pasta.
  5. Ladle over ragu to well cover that.
  6. Pasta, rinse, and repeat until pan is full, and then crown with remaining cheese.
  7. Cook for 30 mins or until well-browned.


How to Cook 6-Hour-Smoked Pork Belly

6 years ago


Wood smoke is one of those delightful and deeply nostalgic flavours (and one that pairs so well with pork). It sadly doesn’t come up half often enough in English cuisine – the odd (and truly inimitable) slice of smoked duck breast in a salad perhaps, and lately a Northern take in the form of ‘Ox in Coal Oil’ at The French (for which Giles Coren would “walk to Manchester barefoot in the rain”). Our weather is hardly an excuse – it’s the only form of outdoor cooking I know of that’s remotely possible in the rain. And the advent of refrigeration hasn’t stopped our American cousins from making smoking a mainstay of barbecue cooking. Well, once upon a time in the 70s a plucky young gamekeeper named Keith Erlandson made a valiant effort to bring it back with his guide, Home Smoking and Curing – wellspring of such wonderful observations as:

I do not feel there is ever any justification for smoking young grouse.

I wouldn’t seek to test Keith, so I’ll start with something a little simpler.

Last winter I lucked out and got a 57cm Weber One Touch BBQ in clearance for £50. Having wheeled it out a few times for grilling steaks, burgers and the like, I thought it was time to test it properly with a couple of hunks of belly pork. The grill’s huge diameter allows it to be bastardised into a kind of hot smoker – the main tenet of the technique being to keep a steady low-ish heat going so that the meat cooks slowly enough for the smoke to penetrate. To do this we need to get the food away from the hot coals, and cook indirectly with the lid on. So, on one side of the chamber I light around 8-10 coals and once they’re fully going, build an unlit barricade around them, walled off by a couple of bricks (the idea being to employ the ‘Minion Method‘ whereby each coal lights one-by-one in relay). See fig 1.


Once they’re nicely going, I chuck on a few chunks of applewood (go easy – I used around 250g over the first couple of hours or so of cooking). Apparently soaking them doesn’t help. Then on go a couple of 2 kilo slabs of belly pork on the top grill on the far side from the heat, with a pan of water underneath to catch fat drips and generally even out temperatures. I gave the meat a thorough dry rubdown with a mix of spices the night before – mainly smoked paprika, toasted ground cumin seed, star anise and cinnamon. I’d thought about taking off the skin, since many people seem to advise that this helps the smoke and spices penetrate further into the edible meat, but blinded by desire for crackling I foolhardily crosshatched it and left it on.


Lid on, I used a cheap but effective probe thermometer to keep watch on the temperature (it should be next to the meat, and above the grill, which I corrected after this photo). The digi-mercury quickly gets up to 125C so I close the bottom air intake vents to a couple of millimetres (always leaving the top ones fully open) and add another pan of water over the heat to calm things down. Ideally you want to keep the ambient ‘oven’ temperature at about 108C.

I add the odd bit of wood when the smoke lapses, and eventually a few more coals after around 4 hours as I try and get the pork to finish up in time for guests (meat cooking slows down at around 65C when slow-cooking – see the Stall). At 62C the meat is safe to eat anyway (according to the relatively recent USFDA guidelines), but I leave it to go for another hour until our supplies of crisps & dips run out. I take it off to rest for 15 minutes before carving, saving all the lovely smoky juices that have combined with the water tray underneath the belly (I’ll likely use them for a chilli in the near future).

Finished smoked pork belly

The pork was pretty delicious, and I’d definitely do this again. You can see the nice pinkness around the edge from the smoke. For the future I would remove the skin before cooking, as it was unsurprisingly nothing like crackling (I grilled it further, but after a couple of beers was a bit impatient and it didn’t go so well). I would also try and give it a full eight hours cooking time to really loosen up the collagen – it was perfectly good as a belly, but I feel longer cooking would really make it melt.

A few days later and all I have curing is some heatproof silicone on a pair of new temperature probes (the one I used during this recipe broke in the last hour or so – be careful with them!). But I’m going to return to the smoke very soon.

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