Make Barbecue Sauce From Ketchup Dregs, Garrison Keillor Can Shove Mellowing Agents Up His Ass
You need to relax. Being a religious NPR listener, you grab the ketchup. Not much is in the bottle, and it has separated to the point that it needs to be shaken to combine. When you do that, it's spread out over the interior surface on the bottle, and you cannot squeeze out a satisfactory stream, just a sputter that gets redirected by the crusty lid onto your shirt. To avoid this scenario, make homemade barbecue sauce when your ketchup gets down to the critical level.
1/2 onion, finely diced
4-25 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
Various sized pinches and shakes of your favorite dried herbs and spices, to include (or not): mustard, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, thyme, marjoram, oregano
The dregs of a bottle of ketchup
Cider vinegar, about the same volume as the ketchup
A shake or two of Worcestershiretondale sauce
2 tbsp honey (optional, see note)
Salt and pepper, as you go, to taste
Add the vinegar to the ketchup bottle, and shake it up. This will thin it down enough that you will get all the ketchupy goodness out of the bottle. The vinegar also works to neutralize ketchup's natural mellowing agents.
In a little bit of butter or oil, saute the onion for a few minutes. Add the garlic, and cook a minute or two more.
Add the bay leaf and all your herbs and spices. Stir. Now is when our favorite neighborhood chain bars & grills would add Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, or, heaven forfend, Southern Comfort to the sauce for some good old 'Merican cross-promotion. Feel free to do that, too, but be careful mixing spirits with fire. We'll just splash a little bit of the beer we happen to be drinking at the moment. Scrape up anything that's cooked to the bottom of your pan while your beer evaporates.
Add the ketchup-vinegar combo, Worcestershire, and optional honey. Bring it up to a simmer; turn the heat way down. Let it simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring (and tasting) occasionally, until the taste and consistency are just what you're looking for.
This is barbecue sauce. It's pretty tangy. Maybe you like it sweeter or more spicy. You are in control of those parameters: add more spicy ingredients to make it spicier, add more honey (or other kind of sugar) to make it sweeter, add less vinegar to make it less tangy. Use it however you like to use barbecue sauce. We pulled some smoked pork butt from the freezer for sandwiches.
Note: Omit the honey if you plan to use this sauce for extended cooking, particularly on a grill. If you're just going to add the sauce to something that's already cooked or during the last few minutes of cooking, go ahead and include it. Or just leave it out, whatever.