« Sesame oil (Recipe: bulgogi) | Main | Whole wheat flour (Recipe: easy grilled whole wheat pizza) »

Ketchup (Recipe: football season chili)

Updated March 2011.

Football season chili, good at any time of year.

No matter how old I get (and today is my birthday, so I know I'm getting older), I will never, ever, outgrow ketchup.

In my family, it was always ketchup, Heinz ketchup, that rescued the bad meals (mother's grievously overcooked calf's liver, hard as shoe leather), and enhanced the good ones (dad's perfectly grilled lamb chops). I put it on cheese omelets and mashed potatoes, and everything in between. Sure, ketchup isn't a vegetable, as the USDA now admits, but I could eat five servings a day.

I don't remember ever seeing my mother cook with ketchup, apart from slathering it atop meatloaf or mixing a quick sauce for shrimp cocktail. As my tastebuds, and my own interest in cooking, broadened, I discovered ketchup in recipes for Chinese stir-fry, Malaysian noodles, Indian curries and barbecue sauces.

Ketchup is a surprise ingredient in this hearty chili.

According to the Food Lover's Companion, ketchup originated in 17th-Century China, where it was a fishy, smelly, pickly condiment (with lots of anchovies, but no tomatoes) called ket-siap. British seamen brought it home, where mushrooms became the dominant flavoring; other ingredients, such as walnuts and vinegar, were added to cater to the European preference for strong sauces. By the 18th Century, ketchup made its way to New England, where tomatoes were added; a century later, Henry Heinz began to bottle and mass-market the product we know today.

Modern-day American ketchup usually has a tomato foundation, though gourmet markets often carry interesting variations (mango ketchup, anyone?). Vinegar gives ketchup its tang, while sugar, salt and spices contribute to the blend.

There is, as it turns out, a correct way to get ketchup out of the bottle. You can invert the bottle and wait, and wait, and wait. You can stick a knife in it, but that can be messy.

Instead, please try this at home: Make a fist with your left hand. With your right hand, invert the bottle on an angle, and rap the lower part of the neck down onto your left fist (on my bottle, above, I hit the 36-ounce label on the neck). This applies the correct G-force to the viscous ketchup, which causes it to flow. No kidding!

Heinz tomato ketchup, approved by NASA for use on the International Space Station, is 130 years old. Makes me feel like a kid again.

Football season chili

Football season chili

Adapted from a recipe from Arthur Manjourides, chef/owner of Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe in Boston's South End. Serves 10.


2 large onions, chopped
1-1/2 cups celery, chopped
4 bell peppers (a mix of red and green), chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 habanero chile pepper, chopped (or jalapeño, for a milder chili)
4 Tbsps olive oil
2 lbs ground sirloin
2 28-oz cans whole peeled tomatoes
4 oz ketchup
2 oz tomato paste
1 cup water
4 bay leaves
1 Tbsp kosher salt
2 heaping Tbsp black pepper, or more to taste
3 Tbsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp cayenne pepper
5 Tbsp chili powder, mild or hot, to taste
2 Tbsps dried oregano
4 Tbsps paprika
2 28-oz cans dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained


In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, sauté onions, peppers, celery, garlic and chile pepper for 5 minutes in olive oil. In the meantime, in a frying pan, brown the beef. Drain off the fat, and add beef to the vegetables. Break up the tomatoes (hint: cut them into the pot with kitchen shears) and add to the pot with ketchup, tomato paste, 1 cup water, and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Add remaining seasonings, and bring to a simmer. Stir in the kidney beans and cook, uncovered, on low heat for 1 hour. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Can be made ahead; cool, cover and refrigerate.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Turkey mole chili
Turkey and white bean chili
Floribean chicken chili
South End Deep Root chili
Clean The Freezer Chili
Turkey-green-chile chili

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Red kidney bean curry, from Smitten Kitchen
Red beans and rice, from Homesick Texan
Ketchup cookies, from David Lebovitz
Ketchup prawns, from Yum-O-Rama
Mom's chili beans, from Simply Recipes

Football season chili, from an old Boston restaurant.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Happy birthday Lydia! Here's to a great year! And great photo of Heinz, looks iconic.

Happy Birthday! I think there's no better way to celebrate than with ketchup - yum. I recall fondly my ketchup sandwiches in high school (well, fondly, and also a little bit disgustedly). Have a great day!

Happy Birthday!

You can buy mushroom ketchup here in England in the grocery stores alongside regular 'tomato ketchup'. I've yet to try it.

First of all Lydia, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

And secondly, I'm with you on the ketchup!

Thanks, everyone, for the birthday wishes.

Erin, I've had that mushroom ketchup in England; it's a bit strong for my taste, but is a great match with meats. To me, though, tomato ketchup will always be the real thing!

Happy birthday, Lydia!

Happy Birthday!! I love Garrison Keillor's little odes to ketchup on Prairie Home Companion.

Happy Birthday! Just think: ketchup in space, and you celebrating your birthday in cyberspace.
Here is a 50s recipe we enjoyed as kids:
Long Boy Cheeseburger

1 lb hamburg
1 Tbspn. Worcester sauce
1/4 c. onion
1/2 c. corn flakes
1/2 c. evaporated milk
1 1/4 c ketchup
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 c. grated cheese
1 egg

Cut grinder two loaves in 1/2, making four halves.
Spread hamburg mix on top of each 1/2.
Bake 25 minutes at 375.

During last five minutes, sprinkle cheese on top.

happy birthday!

I put ketchup on my scrambled eggs. I got it from my mother who learned it in Boston.

Tana, Lucia: Thanks! (Yes, I love Garrison Keillor's odes to ketchup, too.)

Marcia, this recipe looks a cross between a meatball and a Sloppy Joe! What could be bad about that???

Tom, I'm a ketchup-and-eggs girl, too. Learned it from my dad. Ketchup on a cheese omelet is the best thing ever.

Hi, Lydia!
Happy belated Birthday!

Heinz is the only ketchup I buy at home. We don't eat it everyday, but sometimes my husband asks for a little ketchup twist on a beef sandwich I make for him sometimes.

Tks for the lovely comment on my blog, I'll certainly be around here again!

Happy birthday to you, Lydia!

I rarely use ketchup - maybe on a burger - but this recipe sounds great. When Max was younger, he talked me into buying the green ketchup for him. It was gross!

My first recollection of ketchup is on "corn crepes" that was my mother's Friday dinner (no meat)recipe. My favorite is Hunt's No salt added; it has a distinct tomato taste. I've just found Cowboy Ketchup (a R.I. product) but haven't tried it yet. One year I made cranberry ketchup for Xmas giving, it was great on chicken sandwiches. May you have many more Happy Birthdays!!!!!

"HAPPY-HAPPY BIRTHDAY" to you Lydia! You and ketchup, a good thing!

FYI, last night I made french fries in the oven with just a little olive oil on parchemnt paper (won't stick) and an egg white to make them crisp...and yes, lots of ketchup and steak seasoning for taste.

I hope you have a very nice birthday-day!


Happy Birthday!
Oh how I adore ketchup! It's my favorite condiment in the world, and my boyfriend hates it, so I create food moats with it around foods I'm enjoying so much I don't want him to eat it. Delicious and useful, now there's a perfect condiment!

Patricia, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. I grew up on the taste of Heinz ketchup, and to me it defines the "ketchup" flavor. I never buy anything else!

Kate, I'm an all-purpose ketchup user. I love it ON things, but more and more I've come to appreciate it as an ingredient. It adds vinegar and sugar, and a certain tang, in the most unexpected places. Try a bit in your next batch of marinara sauce. And, by the way, real ketchup is RED, no matter what those marketing folks try to sell to us!

Pauline, I love Cowboy Ketchup -- it's a blend of ketchup, mustard and BBQ sauce, made by the Rhode Island Red Hot Sauce folks. I've had cranberry ketchup, once. See above -- it's not real ketchup, to me!

Pam, thank you so much! (Never heard of egg white on fries, by the way -- thanks for the tip.)

Ann, I love the image of food moats of ketchup!!!!!

Happy Birthday, Lydia!

I'm a bit late, but my sentiments are no less sincere. And oh, I am so glad to see a post about ketchup. My brother used to dip potato chips in it. And there's an embarrassing family legend, something about my mother and ketchup and chocolate cake.

I did not know ketchup orginated in China, but I do know I like it on fries.

Hope you're having a great birthday. I'm not a big ketchup eater, but I do like it on scrambled eggs, toast (weird, I know) and meatloaf.

Happy birthday! Can't imagine french fries or a veggie burger or cheese & lentil gratin without ketchup!

Who doesn't love ketchup? It's the perfect combination of salty, sweet, and tangy. Like Marcia, I eat it with eggs (it must be a New England thing, as I'm from RI).

In fact, I was searching food blogs at Simply Recipes and was so excited when I found you listed as the sole RI blogger. I've recently begun blogging, and although I live in Southern California, my Italian heritage and RI upbringing will play siginificant roles I'm sure.

I look forward to seeing what else is in your pantry. Hope your day is everything you want it to be.

Mimi, I love ketchup with any kind of potatoes -- but potato chips? Chocolate cake? I wonder what your father the chef made of that?!

Kalyn, ketchup and eggs -- absolutely!

Catherine, do you put ketchup in your lentil gratin? This gives me the idea to add some to my lentil soup, which usually gets a tomato or some tomato paste to deepen the flavor.

Susan, welcome to The Perfect Pantry, and to the world of food blogging. I'm glad to meet another Rhode Islander, and I'll look forward to reading your new blog.

I´m very fascinated by that ketchup method, especially as I always buy the glass bottle. XX century design classic, wouldn´t have it any other way, but def. tricky.

Lobstersquad, I guess with a glass bottle I'd try rapping it on something other than my hand (ouch!). But I think the whole G-force thing is fascinating, and it really works.

This sounds so delicious! I made a large pot of chili yesterday too!
Hope you had a wonderful birthday. Every day surely is a gift.
Happy Day!
Julie D.

Thanks, Julie! This morning we are having snowflakes -- a somewhat rare occurrence in this freakishly warm winter -- and I'm thinking about a pot of chili, too.....

Belated, but hopefully you are still celebrating. Happy birthday to you!

I'm with you! I love Heinz ketchup.........no other brands will do! Cheers!

Happy Birthday!!! [sorry a few days late]

There's no ketchup better than Heinz ketchup! [oh, occassionally, i do enjoy banana ketchup too] :)

Kristen, thanks -- I've decided to celebrate all week!

Culinary Chase, I'm a Heinze girl all the way.

Mae, banana ketchup is so much better than you'd think by the sound of it. But it's not Heinz......

Thanks, everyone, for birthday wishes!

Adapted from a recipe from Arthur Manjourides, chef/owner of Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe in Boston's South End. Serves 10.
Note: Can some one check the quanity of spices used in this recipe? I assembled all of the spice to make one batch and it looks like a lot of spices for the amount of beans, tomatoes and meat.

Joe, it does seem like a lot of spice, but this is the original recipe, which Charlie's has been making for more than 25 years. You might call this more of a gravy than a chili. It makes a great sloppy joe!

OK, I will try it this weekend and let you know.

Thank you for this recipe! I entered a chili cookoff at work with this recipe and won the first place trophy!

Niki, welcome to The Perfect Pantry, and congratulations on your first prize win!!! I'm so excited! You have wise co-workers indeed, and I hope they loved every bite of your chili.

From China to Malay peninsula and Indonesia to Britain.
Not the Dutch.
Tomatoes introduced in China in late 16th century!
Trying to clean cobwebs out of the brain...
...My mother never made liver! I wonder if she had to eat it as a child?

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.