Condiments to the chef

Make your own ketchup and mustard for summer fêtes.

click to enlarge USE A CONDIMENT: Whip up your own ketchup and mustard to gussy up those summer spreads. - Katie Machol
Katie Machol
USE A CONDIMENT: Whip up your own ketchup and mustard to gussy up those summer spreads.

With summer officially in full swing, the thoughts of home chefs turn to outdoor parties. The fare at these warm-weather gatherings often includes grilled items, cold salads and various other spreads. But while most folks are dreaming of burgers, brats and crudite platters, I’m ruminating over what accompanies said items.

To me, the stars of the show are the condiments — able to mask any overcooked hunk of meat or bland sandwich — and I choose to make my own. The ingredients are inexpensive, plus the homemade versions are easy to make and customizable to suit any taste.

Before making my own ketchup, I assumed Heinz 57 was the end-all, be-all because that’s what the commercials tell us, right? But Heinz just doesn’t cut it for me anymore. Try the simple recipe below and you’ll never have to battle with that infamous glass bottle again.

As for mustard, yellow and Dijon cut it for some, but I’m a fan of the robust flavor of a German-style mustard. The following recipe is perfect on hot dogs and hamburgers, and of course, pretzels, bratwurst and kielbasa. As for the mustard seeds, they can be found in the spice or bulk aisles at your local grocery store.

So go ahead: Impress your cookout guests — and never get caught buying boring condiments again.

“Better than 57” Ketchup

Makes a little over 1 cup

Ingredients

14 ounces of crushed tomatoes or plain tomato sauce (1 small can or 1/2 large can)

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar, light or dark

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (or more to taste)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne (or more to taste)

A dash of freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan, whisk together and put on medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a heavy simmer, then lower heat and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally. Partially cover the pot as the mixture will splatter as it cooks. The mixture will thicken as it simmers. Let cool to room temperature, then either serve it or put it in a covered container and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Whole Grain Beer Mustard

Makes about 1 cup. Adapted from Chow.com.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 cup beer of your choice (but I recommend a porter style)

1/4 cup brown mustard seeds

1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/8 teaspoon turmeric (for color, optional)

1 tablespoon honey (or more to taste)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Toast the cumin seeds in a small pan over medium heat for about 3 minutes, until fragrant. Shake the pan occasionally to prevent burning. Immediately remove from pan to a medium bowl. Place the remaining ingredients in the bowl, cover and let marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

The nest day, transfer mixture to a blender or food processor and pulse until you’ve reached the desired consistency. For a coarse mustard, pulse just a few times or skip this step altogether. Put mustard in a container with a tight-fitting lid and it can keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

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