WV Farm2Fork: Getting in a Pickle
Cucumbers, peppers, garlic, corn, beets, onions, asparagus, beans — the list goes on. Pickling is a traditional Appalachian method of food preservation and one of The Wild Ramp’s top-selling food categories. We stock a variety of these items from several different local producers.
One of those producers is Ghostly Gourmet out of Catlettsburg, Kentucky. Located about 10 miles — well within the 250 mile local radius — from our market, it’s a small, veteran-owned, Christian faith-based business. Owner Bobby Lege, a U.S. Army and food industry veteran, started Ghostly Gourmet in 2018.
“We started out very small under the old cottage law… It was a hobby at the time. My wife, Mary, a registered nurse, and I had full-time jobs, but it was so well-received that we began thinking about taking things to the next level,” Lege said.
“There was a commercial brand pickle that I liked, but it always seemed a bit overcooked and limp, and I thought that I could do better,” Lege said. “So, I wrote my own recipe.”
In short, the pickles were a hit. And so, he began planning more products. The Ghostly Gourmet product line now includes other pickled vegetables, salsa, bbq/gourmet sauces and pepper jellies.
“We pride ourselves on quality; we pride ourselves on the experience people have when enjoying our products,” he said.
Lege describes himself as “just a guy who loves hot peppers.”
“We grow our own hot peppers — a lot of different varieties — that range from mild to some of the world’s hottest.”
But he’s also aware that not everyone is as big of a fan of spicy foods.
“So, all of our products come in both hot and mild,” he said.
To further his business, Lege took classes through the University of Kentucky to receive his commercial canning and packing license. He finished in December 2019 and began work on building a commercial kitchen, which was recently finished.
Meanwhile, he retired from his previous full-time job in October 2019 so that he could fully dedicate himself to Ghostly Gourmet.
“It’s everybody’s dream to do their own thing,” he said. “And I love it — I love the independence of having a local, small business, and I try hard to be a solid peer to others.”
This year, Lege launched a catering division of Ghostly Gourmet. With the success of the business, he’s been able to bring on some employees and his wife has been able to reduce her nursing hours to part-time. Ghostly Gourmet’s products can be found in more than 30 stores in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio, including The Wild Ramp.
“The Wild Ramp was one of our first clients — and the first in West Virginia. They have been so wonderful to work with. We were invited to be a producer, and they more or less helped us get our start to commercial production. They’ve grown right along with us and now carry our full line of products.”
The Wild Ramp’s Harvest Kitchen Chef, Jedediah Thornburgh, has used Ghostly Gourmet products to create three simple, but tasty, recipes you can try at home. We hope you enjoy them!
40 Clove Pickled Garlic Chicken
- 1 whole chicken (cut eight ways)
- 40 cloves of Ghostly Gourmet Pickled Garlic
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons dried thyme
- 1/4 cup white wine
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
Toss chicken with salt, pepper and thyme.
In a sauté pan, sear chicken in olive oil until brown on all sides. Then, transfer to a baking pan.
Deglaze sauté pan with white wine and then add the pickled garlic. Pour wine and garlic over chicken.
Cover chicken with aluminum foil and bake 350°F for 45 minutes or until internal temperature is 165°F.
Pickled Jalapeno Mac and Cheese Bites
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups shredded cheddar
- 1/2 tablespoon dry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- 1/3 cup Ghost’ly Gourmet Pickled Jalapeño (diced)
- 1 cup seasoned bread crumb
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup flour
- Oil for frying
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook macaroni until al dente, and then let it cool.
In a heavy saucepan, bring heavy cream to a boil over medium heat. When the sauce is boiling, add shredded cheddar, mustard, garlic powder and salt and pepper. Continually stir until the mixture thickens.
In a bake pan, combine macaroni, sauce, and diced jalapeños. Level out the pan, and then place in a refrigerator until cooled.
Shape mac and cheese and bread using flour, egg, and seasoned breadcrumb.
Heat frying oil to 375°F, and fry bites until golden brown.
Chow Chow Chicken Salad
- 8 eggs
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons brown mustard
- 4 tablespoons Ghost’ly Gourmet Mild Chow Chow, plus 1 tablespoon for finishing
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika, plus apinch more for finishing
- 1/2 lemon juice
- Salt and pepper(to taste)
- Hard-boiled eggs, and then shell.
Mix all ingredients in a mixer.
Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle a little paprika on top for finishing, and add a tablespoon of chow chow to the middle.