Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ramp Butter

Alright. I'm back, after an inappropriate month-long hiatus. Since we last spoke, ramp season has pretty much run it's course. We've only got a week or two, max.

The good news is that you can enjoy your ramps year-round if you act now and preserve them. One popular, delicious option is to pickle your ramps. Another, less commonly suggested, is to make a compound ramp-butter. I like this second option. A few ramps go a long way, and while pickled ramps taste great, this butter gives me the same flavor I crave when I think of spring.

The process was simple: I separated the leaves from the root ends of my ramps, then blanched the two parts separately in salty boiling water, leaving the larger root-ends to cook for just a few seconds longer. Afterwards, I dried the ramps as much as I could and pureed them in my food processor. I wanted the butter to have a smooth texture and a bright green color, so afterwards I pushed the puree, with a ladle, through a fine mesh strainer, ensuring a smooth consistency. Finally I folded the puree into a pound of butter at room temperature, seasoned aggressively, and rolled the butter into torchons.

I've found that this ramp butter will hold in the fridge for a couple of weeks, and almost indefinitely in the freezer.

As for what to do with the butter, there are plenty of options. Of course, it's really, really good on toast. Eggs, slowly scrambled with parmesan and lots of ramp butter is heavenly. Pasta is good too. Ramps and pasta are always good. In the picture below, I combined pecorino, ramp butter and parsley.

Quick side note on the pasta: I've been using this brand lately which has totally changed my pasta life. It's called Rustichella d’Abruzzo. It's the same brand that Franny's uses for all of their pasta dishes. It's a family run business, which has been producing superior dried goods since 1924. Their pasta is slowly dried at a low temperature and extruded using a bronze mold which produces coarser, starchier pasta that absorbs sauce better and has a wonderful, dense flavor.

Is it pricey? Yes it's pricey – about 6 bucks a pound at Whole Foods. I like to think of it as an affordable luxury. Sure, it's expensive for pasta, but it's not, say, expensive for dinner.

Ok that's it folks. Tune in later this week for fava beans, and maybe some bone marrow or celery soda.

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