Farmers Cooking Class

Farmers Market of the Ozarks and 417 Magazine have teamed up to bring you Farmers Cooking Classes, where you’ll enjoy a gourmet three-course meal with wine pairings and learn about how to eat with the seasons.

by Savannah Waszczuk | Photos by Kevin O’Riley

Jul 2014

For the first Farmers Cooking Class held this month, Chef Wes Johnson is preparing Hay-roasted Landers Lean Meats chicken, poached egg and Millsap roasted peppers.

11 a.m.–1 p.m., Tuesday, July 8

417 Magazine, 2111 S. Eastgate Ave., Springfield

$25 per person, call 417 Magazine at 417-883-7417

There’s a lot more to eating local food than simply shopping at the farmers’ market. Sure, weekly trips to the local market are a great start, but your experience will become much better if you purchase these fruits and vegetables when they are at the peak of their freshness. Also, it helps to know what to do with your bounty of goodies once you get it home. Lane McConnell, the market manager at Farmers Market of the Ozarks, knows this first-hand, and she wants to spread the good word. “Our goal is to teach folks to eat with the seasons,” McConnell says. “It’s not just going to the market, but paying attention to the seasons and getting the very best food.” 

The Menu
(See recipes below)

Salad Course
Quickley Produce Farm tomato- watermelon salad with PT Gardens sweet herb vinaigrette

Entree Course
Hay-roasted Landers Lean Meats chicken, poached egg and Millsap roasted peppers

Dessert Course
Summer pudding with Benissimo strawberry and black pepper gelato

To teach this concept to 417-landers, Farmers Market of the Ozarks joined forces with 417 Magazine and Chef Wes Johnson of Metropolitan Farmer to create Farmers Cooking Classes. There are three classes scheduled for this year, and the first one is on July 8. “At each class, we will educate guests about our vendors and products used in the menu,” McConnell says. “The goal is to make the classes educational and entertaining.” 

Of course, cooking is all about great food, so Chef Wes Johnson was the natural choice to share the joys that result from farm-to-table cooking. Johnson has worked at top restaurants since the mid-2000s and returned to southwest Missouri in 2013 to open Metropolitan Farmer. This farm-to-table restaurant specializes in all things local, planning its menus around what’s grown and harvested by 417-land farmers. Johnson develops the restaurant’s menu based on what’s in season, and he’s planning the cooking class menus in the same fashion. “There will be three courses at each class,” Johnson says. “One will be a salad or a soup, then an entree featuring a local protein, and then, of course, a dessert.” 

July’s menu is planned around summer fruits and veggies, and the September 9 class focuses on fall vegetables. The November 11 menu features root vegetables and a heartier main course.

In addition to enjoying a gourmet three-course meal with wine pairings by Missouri Wines, guests receive swag bags filled with goodies from Farmers Park retailers, the market’s vendors and more, plus a copy of the recipes used at the class to take home with them. And they’ll also take home a little something extra: excitement about eating local foods and cooking with local ingredients. “We want to teach guests to get excited about eating local,” Johnson says. “We want them to get excited about what’s in season.” 


Salad Course

Quickley Produce Farm tomato-watermelon salad with PT Gardens sweet herb vinaigrette

Ingredients for tomato watermelon salad:
2 cups seedless watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

Ingredients for sweet herb vinaigrette:
Zest of one lemon
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (chive, rosemary and thyme)
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Combine lemon zest, juice and honey, and whisk in the olive oil.
2) Season with herbs, salt and pepper.
3) Toss the watermelon and tomatoes in the vinaigrette, and serve in a bowl.

Entrée Course

Hay-roasted Landers Lean Meats chicken, poached egg and Millsap roasted peppers

Ingredients for hay roasted chicken:
3 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 half chickens, preferably organic
2 tablespoons olive oil
Dry green hay

1) Preheat oven to 350℉
2) Mix the butter, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl.
3) Slide the butter mixture under the skin of the chicken breast.
4) Rub the skin with olive oil, and place the chicken halves skin-side up on a bed of green hay in a roasting pan.
5) Place into the oven for 45 minutes or until juices run clear and skin is golden brown

Dessert Course

Summer Pudding with Benissimo strawberry and black pepper gelato

Ingredients for summer pudding:
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cups fresh blackberries
11/2 cups small strawberries, halved
1/3 cup fresh raspberries
8 slices white bread
Heavy cream

1) Combine water, sugar and half the berries in a medium saucepan.
2) Cook over a medium heat, stirring to mash the berries until sugar has dissolved and the berries have softened.
3) Allow to cool, then fold in the fresh berries. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
4) Strain the berries, and reserve the liquid.
5) Cut bread into circles to fit the base of small mason jars.
6) Place a round of bread in the base of each jar, then divide strained berries between the four jars.
7) Spoon over reserved juice until the jars are close to full, pushing down to fit them in.
8) Top each jar with another bread circle, and top with more liquid.
9) Cover with plastic wrap, and add a weight to the jars. Refrigerate overnight.
10) Garnish with whipped cream and remaining berries.