3 ketchup recipes without tomatoes

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As a teenager, I had a slumber party almost every weekend. If the parents weren’t home, and they weren’t often, my friends and I would take over the kitchen and make popcorn, spaghetti with plain tomato sauce and, if we felt ambitious, fries.

Very good fries are a delight. For nearly 20 years, I enjoyed those at the now closed K&L Bistro in Sevastopol. The first time I ordered them, I asked for aioli to go with them. A few minutes later, I saw Karen Martin, co-owner and co-chef with her husband Lucas Martin, holding a large metal bowl in one hand and a whisk in the other, whisking the aioli. These fries were so good covered in aioli and just a bit of ketchup.

Ketchup is, of course, the classic condiment with fries, at least in the United States. In France, Belgium and the Netherlands, mayonnaise is the default dip. And yes, you might get a condescending look if you ask for ketchup in a French cafe, but if that’s what you prefer, so what?

Dijon mustard is also excellent, and many people like to dip their fries in honey mustard. Crème fraîche with a few Tabasco shakes also makes a delicious dip.

And to drink? The absolute best companion is dry sparkling wine, whether it’s a cheap Spanish cava or the best local sparkling you can afford.

You want to use a neutral-tasting oil for making fries, such as lightly flavored olive oil or corn, grapeseed, or peanut oil. Do not use extra virgin olive oil; it’s too expensive and tastes too much.

Perfect fries

Makes 4 servings

5 (about 2 pounds) medium to large organic potatoes, Kennebec or mature russets

2 liters of peanut, corn or olive oil

Kosher salt

Condiments of your choice

Rub the potatoes well but do not peel them.

Cut the potatoes lengthwise into ⅜-inch-wide slices. Cut the slices into ⅜ inch wide strips. Place potatoes in a large bowl, cover with water and refrigerate for at least 2 hours; night is better.

To cook the potatoes the first time, drain them thoroughly and pat them dry on kitchen towels (not on paper towels, which can tear and stick to the potatoes).

Pour the oil into a deep fryer or heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring the temperature to 350 degrees. Put a handful of potatoes in a frying basket and drop it into the hot oil. Shake the basket gently to evenly distribute the potatoes so they don’t stick together. Fry for 4 minutes and transfer to paper towels, such as a large paper grocery bag. Potatoes should be completely tender but colorless. If they darken, lower the heat and wait a few minutes before continuing. Repeat until all the potatoes have been fried.

Remove the oil from the heat. Place the potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet and let cool for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours.

To finish cooking, return the fryer or skillet to medium heat. When the oil reaches 360 degrees, fry the potatoes in batches until golden brown and just crisp, about 2-4 minutes. Transfer each batch to paper towels before adding a second batch. Season with salt and enjoy immediately, accompanied by your favorite condiments.

Note: You can cool the oil, strain it, store it in a cool, dark place, and use it to make another batch or two of fries, after which it should be discarded.

With Bing cherry season underway, now is the perfect time to whip up this delicious condiment. For a very creamy version, pass it through a colander before packaging it in glass jars.

Cherry ketchup

Makes about 2½ cups

2½ pounds Bing cherries, pitted

¾ cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup brown sugar, packed

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

¾ teaspoon finely ground white pepper

½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

Put the cherries, vinegar and sugar in a saucepan and heat over medium heat. Stir gently until the liquid begins to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until the fruit is quite tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool for about 15 minutes. Mix the mixture with an immersion blender. Add the lemon zest, ginger, garlic, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom and mix well.

Return to low heat and cook until the mixture is quite thick, about 1 hour or a little more. Taste and adjust the seasoning, according to your taste.

Remove from heat and pour into hot glass jars. Let cool; the mixture will continue to thicken. Add lids and rings.

At this point, you can store the ketchup in the fridge for 2-3 weeks or process it in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes, which will keep it for about a year in a cool, dark pantry.

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