Lots of people make ramp butter, and there’s definitely more than one way to skin a cat. But, I was reminded the other day that not all ramp butters are created equal when I told one of my line cooks to make ramp butter for a steak dish we were running without giving him an explicit recipe.
I often just tell my cooks to “make this or that” since our menu usually changes every day. Writing recipes and weighing out different proportions of things can get really tedious with things changing so quickly, so it’s important for me to find a balance of teaching cooks to create with their intuition, as well as having back-ups of solid, dialed in mother recipes to ensure quality and consistency.
The ramp butter he made was nice and green, but the ramp punch was barely noticeable. We usually blanch and puree the leaves to lock in the bright green color of the chlorophyll, but any ingredients will always be a little more mild after blanching and shocking in ice water as opposed to them being used fresh.
Not satisfied, I took half an hour or so to develop a mother recipe for the kitchen, the goal being that the butter had to be vibrant green, but also needed to have a strong ramp flavor.
Adding raw chopped ramp bulbs could work, but too many could push it to the verge of being hot and abrasive. I’ll add too, that I’ve been focusing on using only the greens of the ramps in new recipes to gently nudge new and would-be foragers into a mindset of sustainable harvesting techniques.
The butter I ended up with was great, but, unfortunately, it needed a smooth puree of ramps, which meant a highspeed blender and a food processor were used, and it made at the very least 2 pounds of butter–a little too much for most home cooks. So, what I eventually settled on is a hybrid recipe.
Basically, you take some ramp leaves, blanch half of them, then spin them into a thick, creamy, rampy butter with some finely minced fresh leaves for the best of both worlds. You get a vibrant green butter, a solid (but not too strong) ramp flavor.
Note on the images
Make the recipe below and you may notice your ramp butter is slightly different than the ones pictured–don’t worry. Pictured in this post is the original restaurant batch-ramp leaf butter. If you’re a chef, or if you have a vitamix or other highspeed blender and want to look at the recipe for making 2, 5 or 10 lb batches, let me know and I’ll send it to you, otherwise, enjoy your rampy experiments.
Ramp Leaf Butter
- Food processor
- 2 oz 2 cups lightly packed ramp or other onion leaves
- 8 oz 2 sticks salted butter
- 1/2 tablespoon cold water
- A few cracks of the peppermill
- 1/2 Tablespoon chilled lemon juice or water plus a few scrapes of lemon zest, optional
- Cut the butter into tablespoon sized pieces and bring to room temperature.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch HALF of the ramp leaves for 5 seconds, just until wilted, then refresh in cold water. Alternately, for a stronger flavor, steam the ramp leaves for a few seconds until just wilted.
- Squeeze the leaves dry, then mince fine on a cutting board with the fresh ramp leaves.
- In the bowl of a food processor pulse the ramp leaf mash to smooth it out a bit, then gradually add the butter pieces 1 chunk at a time, along with the water, processing to make a smooth paste (it may take some time if your butter is cold-just be patient) continuing to process until the butter is light green and fluffy-make sure to watch the video as this is easier seen than explained.
- If the butter, or ambient temperature of the kitchen is very cold, add a spoonful or two of boiling water to help the mixture move in the food processor.
- Once the butter is emulsified, fluffy and brilliant green, add the pepper, and drizzle in the lemon juice, processing for a few seconds to lighten it. Spread the butter onto a piece of parchment and refrigerate, or cut into portions and freeze.
- The butter will keep for a week in the fridge, and a couple months in the freezer. I prefer to vacuum seal it for the best long-term storage.