Do you read the headers on recipes in cookbooks? That little paragraph between the recipe title and the actual recipe?

I read them. Faithfully. They often give me a hint about a recipe, a little urge to try something. Like this one: “I can promise Ammo’s ketchup will enter your pantry repertoire and never leave.”

A statement that bold has to be taken seriously. Suzi made this ketchup, and now we’ll always have a supply on hand. This is not your Heinz 57. It’s truly exceptional. Oh, yes, the recipe calls for an Anaheim chile and Suz used a chipotle with a dollop of the sauce. What can I say? She’s an addict.

Making your own ketchup may seem like a chore, but it pays off in quality that you will surely appreciate. Amy Sweeny founded Ammo Catering and Café in LA, closed it, and has not reopened it as Ammobysalt, a delivery only spot in LA that features the delightful and imaginative fare that is Amy’s trademark.

The recipe calls for reducing the ketchup over medium heat for 30 minutes. Our “medium” heat on a professional stovetop may have been a tad warm. We were at the right consistency after just 12 minutes, so watch this step with care.

Do make this ketchup. Anaheim or chipotle. Your call.

Ammo Ketchup

Yield: serves 4-6


  • 4 whole cloves, smashed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ¼ teaspoon celery seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice berries
  • 2 pounds tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt, or to taste
  • ½ cup distilled white vinegar, or to taste
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon lightly packed brown sugar, or to taste
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 Anaheim chile, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed


Wrap the cloves, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, celery seeds, red pepper flakes, and allspice in a layer of cheesecloth, then tie into a bundle. You’ve just made a spice sachet.

In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the spice sachet, tomatoes, salt, vinegar, brown sugar, onion, chile, and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring to combine until the tomatoes have broken down and the onions and chiles are very soft, about 40 minutes. Remove and discard the spice bundle.

Transfer the mixture to a blender (don’t wipe out the saucepan), then puree the sauce until smooth. Strain through a mesh strainer back into the same saucepan and return to medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 30 minutes. Taste and add more salt, sugar, or vinegar, if desired. Transfer the ketchup to a glass jar and set aside to cool. (This will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.)

Source: The L.A. Cookbook by Alison Clare Steingold [Rizzoli, 2018]

Photo Information [top]: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/3.5 for 1/30th second at ISO‑250

Photo Information [bottom]: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/3.5 for 1/30th second at ISO‑320