I might be the last person on the foodie internet who had not eaten ramps before this week, but there they were-- lovely wild West Virginia ramps at the farmer's market. Ramps have a short season- April-May-- and they are hard to cultivate. They are actually foraged in the woods, and common to Appalachia. Their wildness and short season makes them extra precious, so many people are obsessed with them and there is a proliferation of recipes designed to preserve the ramps, such as pesto and compound butters. Basically, preparations you can freeze. After reading a lot of recipes, it occurred to me there are similar goals and ingredients as guacamole-- infusing spicy savory aromatics into a rich and buttery base. And if you've eaten guacamole from a molcajete, you have experienced the sublime melding of flavors that happens when you pulverize onion, lime, herbs, and chiles into a sauce before combining with buttery avocado. I can't think of a better way to get flavors into compound butter than the volcanic rock of the molcajete. (If you don't have one, you could use a mortar and pestle, but it means more work for you.) I am here to report, this was a success! —Meredith
What You'll Need
salted butter, room temperature
Clean the ramps by cutting off the roots and soaking them in a bowl of cold water, peeling off the thin slimy outer layer that starts midway up the green stalk. Also separate the green leaves and rinse away any dirt. You may need to empty the bowl more than once.
Coarsely chop the ramps and place in the molcajete. Add zest, salt, pepper, lemon juice. pulverize until a sauce begins to form-- you will still have chunks of ramp.
Instead of leaving any flavor behind by transferring to a bowl, if your molcajete is big enough, add the soft butter to the bowl. At this point you can break up the butter a little, and then use a spatula to combine thoroughly.
If you want to freeze some of the compound butter for later, roll it in a piece of wax paper and then foil. The rest can go in a jam jar for immediate use.