Here at Egypt Valley, our chefs take pride in working directly with local farmers. We’ve recently been recognized as a local leader in the farm-to-table movement and were awarded the “Snail of Approval” by Slow Foods West Michigan.
Throughout the process of getting to where we are today, Chef Ben and the EVCC Culinary Team have built long-lasting relationships with farmers in the area, one being with Jim Case at Pebble Creek Produce. If you’ve ever had our Mushroom Ragout at the club, this dish is specifically made with mushrooms from Pebble Creek.
Jim provides many of the mushrooms you see in our dishes at Egypt Valley and his story of getting into the mushroom business is solely based on relationships with farmers, his family and his love for happiness—something that can be witnessed within moments of meeting him.
Jim started growing mushrooms as a hobby before starting Pebble Creek Produce and making his passion his full-time career. After a life altering accident, his wife encouraged him to start his own mushroom business where his main focus became growing a good product. He originally started a mushroom farm at his home where his goal was to be growing 100 pounds a week within six months. Jim quickly realized he would need to expand when he reached his original goal in one week. Within two and a half months, Jim was growing 300 pounds a week, on average.
In order to begin working with small and local restaurants, Jim would show up to businesses with a box of mushrooms so the chefs could see, taste and use his product. Right from the beginning, Jim wanted to build relationships in the community and quickly knew he did not want to sell to retailers and lose the connection he feels when working with chefs.
“When I got involved in this, I had one mission and only one mission in mind—I love the relationships with chefs because you are the ones that are creative with my product,” Jim said. “When I sell retail, I don’t get any satisfaction with it. I don’t get to see chef’s faces. I got out of the corporate world so that no one could dictate my business. I get to bring it directly to the small business and see the chef’s work with our product.”
In the coming weeks, Jim will be offering the Egypt Valley FOH and BOH staff in-house training, informing staffers on all facts related to the mushrooms the Club sells. This will allow staff to try the product, work with it and learn more about what we sell to our membership.
“I get excited to work directly with the vendor so I know where our product is coming from,” said Egypt Valley’s Chef Ben. “We can’t wait to have Jim out at EVCC to do this training with our staff.”
If you haven’t in the past, make sure to order an EVCC dish with mushrooms … you won’t be sorry!
Creamy Mushroom Ragout w/ Pebble Creek Mushrooms
You may be asking: “What, exactly, is a ragout?” Without diving into the dictionary, it’s basically a chunky sauce that’s cooked slowly so the flavors are allowed to develop into something deeper than the sum of its ingredients. Traditionally, ragouts are made with some kind of meat. For the popular version served in the restaurant, we let mushrooms stand in for the meat. Maybe “stand in” isn’t the correct term, because these mushrooms shine and are undoubtedly the star of the show! Special thanks to Jim at Pebble Creek Produce for supplying the club with these beauties.
Served with some crusty French bread, this recipe is a great appetizer for four. It also makes an insanely delicious sauce to toss your favorite pasta in, if you’re into delicious things!
- 12 ounces Pebble Creek organic mushrooms, sliced into 2-inch pieces
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 medium shallots, peeled and finely diced
- 1/2 cup brandy, sherry, madeira or marsala
- 1 head roasted garlic; cloves removed from the husk once cool enough to handle
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, oregano, basil or rosemary (or a combination of all four)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 loaf French baguette or other crusty bread
1. Once you have your mushrooms sliced, get a large shallow pan on a medium-high flame. Before you start cooking, throw your baguette in a 375-degree oven.
2. Back to the ragout: Add your olive oil and butter. Once the butter starts to foam and make some noise, add the mushrooms, turn the heat up to high. Don’t overcrowd the pan, that will cause the mushrooms to steam. You want them to get nice and brown quickly, almost like roasting them. If you need to cook the mushrooms in two batches and then return them to the pan to finish the dish, that might be a good idea.
3. Once the mushrooms have released their liquid and began to turn brown (three to four minutes), add the shallots and whole roasted garlic cloves. Cook for two minutes, just until the shallots turn translucent. If the mushrooms seem too dry, add a splash of EVOO.
4. Now, it’s time to deglaze the pan with the alcohol. Take the pan off the flame (I don’t want you burning your face off or your house down, so use caution when cooking with alcohol). Once the alcohol is added, return the pan to the flame and cook for one minute, until reduced by half.
5. Add the cream, fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat to medium. Simmer gently for about five minutes, or until the cream has reduced and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
6. Pull the baguette from the oven. It should be crusty and warmed through.
7. To serve, pour the ragout into a couple shallow serving dishes, slice the baguette and serve along with the ragout. You could serve this with a green salad and you’d have a nice summertime dinner.