Ooh-la-la ramps are finally in season, but they’ll be gone before you know it! I ordered mine from FreshDirect and they look excellent, so today I’m going to try another First Attempt recipe of making clarified butter (also called Ghee). Us Slow-Carb kids aren’t really supposed to have dairy, but the clarifying process removes practically all the lactose and casein in butter making it a-ok for eating – in moderation. Clarified butter also has a higher smoke point than regular butter which means you can cook meat and fish at higher temperatures which is great for pan-frying.
The only special items needed for this recipe are a stand mixer or food processor and an air-tight container for your final product (to prevent oxidation)
This recipe is a two-step process – first, to make the clarified butter, and then to mix in the ramps.
– 1 lb of high-quality unsalted butter (I am using Organic Valley Pasture Butter*)
– 3-5 ramps, finely chopped (I only used the bulbs and saved the leaves for salad, but I think using all of it would work too)**
– High-quality/Kosher salt, to taste
– Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
In a medium-sized saucepan, slowly melt all the butter over low heat. When the butter has completely liquefied, remove from heat and let stand for about 5 minutes. Skim the white foam off the top (trash it) and slowly pour the remaining butter into a container. If you get some more milky solids from the bottom of the pan, just scrape those off too. It will taste best if you scrape off as much of the white as possible, I left a little bit and am regretting it now (though my sister loved it).
Once the butter has solidified somewhat (not all the way!), slowly drop in the ramps – one small handful at a time. I didn’t mix mine, the ramps hit the butter and dispersed themselves a bit naturally so I left it that way in a flatter container. If you see the ramps starting to sink to the bottom, wait for the butter to harden a little more and mix it to move everything around.
(Note: Clarified butter will keep, in an air-tight container, for about one month in the refrigerator or for about four months in the freezer.)
That’s about it!
* For the clarified butter, I’m starting with two 8 oz. packages of Organic Valley Pasture Butter, which is made from cow’s milk ONLY during their “pasture season” from May to September. From the Organic Valley website: “Produced without antibiotics, or synthetic hormones and pesticides, Organic Valley Pasture Butter is seasonally produced in small batches at the height of pasture season, providing higher levels of vitamins, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), and balanced omega-3 and omega-6 fats.”
This was recommended to me by an employee at Whole Foods (it was not the most expensive and it was on sale, so I was inclined to believe him) and I have no other reason for purchasing this butter. If there is another butter you swear by for making ghee, please let me know!
UPDATE (September 2013): For this batch I used a high-quality Icelandic butter and it turned out just as good. The only difference in this ingredient change is that, instead of foam collecting at the top of the pan to skim off, most of the lactose and casein solidified and sunk to the bottom. I didn’t really know how to get it out of the container at that point, but there is a clear line where it separates from the clarified butter so just.. stop eating it at that point. I will update again if I find a better solution. (My sister has suggested letting the butter solidify in containers first, then flipping them over and scraping off the milky solids, but I have not attempted this yet as I saved my butter in a glass container.)
** Ramps can be pretty difficult to find and are only in season for a short while in the spring. If you are unable to find fresh ramps, fresh scallions are just as tasty in clarified butter. Clean them well and use both the bulb and leaves, finely chopped.