I’ve always been a little intimidated by cooking meat-centric dishes. While I’ve mastered the art of stews and chili thanks to my trusty slow cooker, the idea of serving a roast or perfectly cooked steak has always seemed daunting to me. So when I heard about Fields of Athenry Farm’s Basic Meat Cookery class, I signed up on the spot. And I’m so glad I did.
Wes Rosati, the new chef at Fields of Athenry in Purcelleville, hosted our class of 12 in the farm’s demonstration kitchen. He didn’t present recipes to the letter. Instead he focused on teaching us methods: poaching, searing and braising; knowing when to apply dry heat versus wet heat; even sharing when to cover or not cover a pot. Meat demystified!
We watched step-by-step as Wes poached salmon, seared New York strip and chicken breast, and finished osso bucco. All of which we photographed and tasted [with wine and apps!]. The chicken breast was some of the best I’ve ever had, and so simple to prepare. Was the secret in the beef stock used to finish it or the quality of the free-range meat, raised right outside the window?
I walked away from the class with the big picture understanding I’d come looking for, and a newfound confidence in the kitchen.
After class, I sat down with Wes for a few minutes to learn his story. He turned in his apron as executive chef at a large upscale resort for the opportunity to pursue his love of local food. Raised on ten acres in Linden, VA, with farm animals and a garden, fresh ingredients come naturally to him. He’d met Elaine Boland, owner of Fields of Athenry, when she was a meat supplier to the resort, and one thing led to another. In addition to holding classes, Wes caters, prepares food for sale in the farm store that also sells meat and eggs, and will cook patio lunch service for customers at the farm, starting this spring. So stop on by if you’re wine or whiskey tasting near Purcelleville.
Wes will be holding a repeat performance of the Basic Meat Cookery class, as well as Soup, Stock, Stew & Chili and Sauces & Winter Vegetable Cookery classes in the upcoming weeks. And he’ll be preparing fresh farm lunches at the upcoming Grow Your Health Food and Wellness Festival in Fairfax, VA on Sunday, March 10th.
This post is also featured on Foodsheed Magazine’s blog page.