I never did love ketchup. I know everyone does. It is said to be the perfect combination of sweet, sour, salty and savoury, and tomatoes are one of my favourite ingredients, but I just find ketchup to be wanting, and something that is used to blanket other flavours not actually add to the dish. The flavour profile feels a bit two dimensional and dull to me, so I don’t have it in my pantry. Not out of snobbery, I love proper Asian instant noodles and all sorts of other things. I love good eating, and that comes in many forms, I am completely open when it comes to this.
Of course, I make my own ketchup, and I love that one. I have many versions. The beauty of making it at home is, yes, you know what is in it, but also you can can create something that suits your palette better when you do. Be it sweeter, more sharp, with more depth, I like a freshness and a fruitiness. Ultimately, ketchup is just a sauce in a bottle, and you can put what you like in it.
This morning I made a gorgeous tomato sauce bulked out with pork royalty ‘nduja, a beautiful creamy sausage from Calabria, rich with pork, Calabrian chilli and fat. The fat is important, it gives texture and flavour and makes it meltingly soft. I sweetened it a bit with some caramelised onion, then I added some excellent tomato passata (try and seek out one of the bottled ones in a good Italian deli, they are worth the extra cash), and added a layer of aroma with oregano. I finished it by poaching some eggs in it and with a sprinkle of the tiniest fresh oregano leaves from my oregano plant.
Sunday brunch perfection, no? Firey and persuasive, the only thing it missed was some toasted sourdough soldiers to drag through the yolk. I made some extra sauce though, so I will sort that detail for tomorrow. I can’t wait for it, but I am trying to teach myself self control and denial. Not very well, I must admit! It is dull, isn’t it?!
I love Sunday brunch, and would love to know what you make for yours? Give me some inspiration in the comments below! (via facebook or traditional comments at the bottom – I am still not sure about this system, what do you think?)
Note on the recipe: sourcing ‘nduja is not so difficult online now, or in good Italian delis if you have one near you. Look for a proper Italian one, I find that they are the best and most firey.
Recipe: ‘Nduja & Caramelised Onion Ragu with Eggs
Serves 2 (you can like me cook for yourself and reserve half for tomorrow)
Takes about an hour
2 onions, peeled, halved and sliced finely
150g ‘nduja, skin removed
400ml good Italian passata, or a tin of tomatoes (you may need to adjust the acidity with a tsp of honey and a splash of vinegar with these)
2 tbsp fresh oregano leaves or 1 tbsp dried
1 tbsp butter (or coconut oil if dairy free) and 1 tsp light oil (to stop the butter burning)
In a shallow frying pan sauté the onions in the butter and oil for a low heat, stirring occasionally. It takes about 40 minutes to caramelise properly, and don’t be tempted to add sugar. The natural sugars of the onion is all we want here.
When the onions are browning, soft and sweet, add the nduja and stir through. Add the passata and bring to the boil before reducing the heat and cooking for about 10 minutes. Taste to adjust seasoning with sea salt. The ‘nduja is salty so it may not need it. If saving half the ragu, do so now.
Add some oregano, stir through, and then create little shallow spaces in the sauce for the eggs. Crack each in, and cover with a lid so that they steam. When the white is set and the yolks is still runny they are done.
Serve with a sprinkle of oregano and some nice crusty toast if you have it.
Got the ‘nduja bug? More recipes:
Recipe: Naughty But Nice N’Duja Devilled Eggs
Recipe: Pimp My Piri Piri Poussin
More brunch recipes:
Eggs in Tomatoes, Iberico Ham, Chorizo & Black Lentils
A Quick Recipe for a Glorious Brunch: Turkish Eggs
American Style Pancakes with Bacon & Maple Syrup
Homemade Soda Farls, Morcilla & Eggs
Brunch Baked Eggs