Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The All-American Condiment

Ketchup. Heinz 51. The all-American condiment. Found in every American home.

A couple of weekends ago I was busy reviewing the ingredients and preparing my shopping list for the Tyler Florence pulled pork sandwich recipe I was planning to make from his eat this book cookbook. (Look at that cover — I think I WILL eat this book!) I had my list, but there were a couple of pantry staples I needed to check on:
• dry mustard — check
• cider vinegar — check
• yellow mustard — a staple for some, but we didn't have any. Better pick that up.*
• cayenne — running low, better pick up some more
• brown sugar — again, running low. buy more.
Note the asterisk. This is important.

I made my trip to the store, hurried home and prepared my dry rub. Slathered it all over that pork shoulder. Put that pork shoulder in a roasting pan and got it roasting. Sat back and relaxed, it was the weekend after all and the pork would be porkolating for six hours. Plenty of time. The afternoon was whiled away, enjoying some sun and a couple of beers in preparation for barbecue supper. With one hour of cooking to go, I moseyed into the kitchen to whip up the sauce. It's easy. Here's the recipe:

Cider Vinegar Barbecue Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 cup yellow or brown mustard
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
To make the barbecue sauce: combine the vinegar, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, salt, cayenne, and black pepper in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer gently, stirring, for 10 minutes until the sugar dissolves.

I began to combine away: in went the vinegar, then some mustard… but wait… no… it can't be… heavens to Murgatroyd! We had no ketchup. WE HAD NO KETCHUP. I shoved around all those condiment bottles that live on the refrigerator door, making quite a racket: pickles, chili-garlic paste, olives, sweet relish, dijon, grainy mustard, green curry paste, horseradish, capers,
black bean-chili sauce, maple syrup, assorted jams, Hellman's AND Miracle Whip (that's a-whole-nother condiment story altogether).

We have lived in this apartment for six months and had no ketchup. We cook a lot. We eat at home a lot. I mean, A LOT. And yet, somehow, some way, we've gone six months without ketchup. No yellow mustard? Okay, understandable. I don't really like it anyway. But no ketchup seemed impossible. I hurried to the computer to see what it would take to whip up my own ketchup. Time—that's what it would take. And we didn't have it. I had been in relaxing mode and now the pork was almost done. Running right alongside my panic and the boy's speedy dash to the store for said missing ingredient, I have to say I felt a little, well … yes, pride. There, I've said it. Is that just plain un-American?


  1. You are so funny. I can just picture you doing this. Did you put cole slaw on the sandwiches? That's how I like it!

  2. That is exactly something that would happen to me. I am always out of something in the kitchen.