Saturday, March 1, 2014

As St. Patrick's Day nears, what's more Irish than ...

... ketchup?

Let's think about this a second, shall we?

When we think about Irish food, the potato is on the list, yes? And when we think about potatoes, one of the most common dishes is French fries, right? And what do you put on French fries?

Yes, ketchup!

See how I did that?

So when an Irish company called Ballymaloe asked me if I wanted to try some of their ketchup (which is called Country Relish in Ireland), I said, sure, what the heck.

So I made French fries.

The company told me that the ketchup is free of gluten, dairy, and artificial additives, but I was much more interested in what it tasted like.

They send me three different ketchups - the regular, one with stout, and one with chilis. I decided to taste them in that order, figuring that it made sense to go from mildest to strongest.

The regular ketchup was sweeter and spicier than the normal US ketchups. But not sweet in a sugar, candy-like way. Sweet like ripe tomatoes and sweet spices. While it was more flavorful than a typical ketchup, it was still recognizable as ketchup. It wasn't a mystery sauce or a barbecue sauce wanna-be. I really loved it. Totally. Like, gee, can they ship me a couple cases of this?

Besides the flavor difference, the texture was less smooth than a typical US ketchup. Not chunky or lumpy, but not completely smooth, either.

I want to slather this on everything.

The ketchup with stout was darker and a little richer. Less sweet. Still recognizable as ketchup. To be honest, I'm going to have to do another taste test to decide whether I like this one or the regular better. I think the regular might edge this one out by just a little bit.

The ketchup with chilis wasn't as spicy as I expected. Which is actually a very good thing. I could slather this on French fries and not feel like I was eating potatoes and salsa. I think this would be a great base for making cocktail sauce, adding its heat to the horseradish that I always use. But, it's still recognizable as ketchup, which made me really happy. I kind of hate it when I buy something labeled as "ketchup" and it ends up being hot sauce, barbecue sauce, salsa, or tomato paste.

So ... since I had so much trouble picking a favorite, I decided to try another test: Meatloaf.

And here's my final decision. For French fries, I liked the regular ketchup best. For hot meatloaf, I liked the ketchup with stout, and for cold meatloaf sandwiches, I liked the ketchup with chili. So ... yeah, I liked them all.

Good thing I don't have to choose ... until I run out.

Luckily, there's a handy map that shows where I can find more. I'll be looking for it.

So, what's your favorite thing to put ketchup on?

Disclaimer: I was sent products for review. I was not compensated for this post, nor was I required to say nice things.