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Sweet-and-Spicy Ketchup

Paul Virant keeps this simple house-made ketchup on hand for staff meals when burgers or Chicago dogs are on offer for his cooks. He also likes to have it available to serve with his chicken tenders for children who come into the restaurant. For the base, Virant uses tomatoes his staff has canned during the summer, but store-bought tomato sauce also works.


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  • Total Time:
  • Servings: makes 1 1/4 cups

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  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or pimentón de la Vera
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/3 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Two 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the brown sugar, paprika, allspice and cloves and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts. Add the vinegar and tomato paste and cook over moderate heat until thick, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce and simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until very thick, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Transfer the ketchup to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Make Ahead

The ketchup can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Contributed By Photo © Yunhee Kim Published June 2007

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