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A better tomato ketchup, from Oxford, Mississippi

A better tomato ketchup, from Oxford, Mississippi , via John Currence, a chef devoted to the flamboyant vernacular and to many, many bands ranging from N.W.A. to Lil Band O’ Gold. Each of his recipes from Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey: Recipes From My Three Favorite Food Groups gets a song. This one, paired with a rather bizarre shrimp and lobster corn dog, gets “We Had to Tear This Muthafucka Up” by Ice Cube. Fear not: Currence’s ketchup is better than its anthem.

  • mississippi-map.gifabout 8 cored, halved and seeded tomatoes
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • about 2 teaspoons salt
  • about 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme or 1½ teaspoons dried
  • another Tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 smashed and minced garlic cloves
  • about ½ cup minced onion
  • 4 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • heaped ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • heaped ¼ teaspoon ground clove
  • 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1½ teaspoons onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ cup malt vinegar


Preheat the oven to 325°.

  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment, spread the tomatoes on it with the cut side up, paint them with the olive oil and season generously with the thyme, salt and pepper.
  2. Cook the tomatoes until they begin to dry, usually in about 2 hours.
  3. Dump the tomatoes along with everything else into a blender or food processor and blast the ketchup into paste.


-Currence requires a commercial grade Vita Mix blender, which is too expensive for the Editor.

-He suggests adding water to the ketchup during the course of Step 3 “to achieve your desired consistency.

-He also uses peanut instead of olive oil for the Tablespoon of binder at Step 3; the Editor prefers olive oil.

-“The flamboyant vernacular” refers to Currence’s “fascination with carnival food and recreating iconic American packaged foods…. We have made Foie Gras Funnel Cakes, Elephant Ears with Pork and Caramelized Onion Ragout, and Wild Mushroom Pop Tarts” along with the shellfish corndog. The affectation would appear to abuse good ingredients.