An excerpt and recipe from In Search of Duende, a unique cookbook filled with adventurous tales of a globetrotting chef
Story excerpt and recipe by Chef Russell Lowell
“Welcome to Russell’s Elk Camp. Over the past twenty years I have taken groups of ten to fifteen guests into the Pacific Northwest wilderness to experience a daylong introductory version of a hunting elk camp that gives—I hope—my city friends a taste of the real thing.
The tent is set up and secured. Inside we’ve got a cast iron stove with its stovepipe running up and out the top of the tent. The guests arrive and it is fun to watch as they gain the sense of how removed from civilized comforts they are. The camp might be located at the end of an old logging road that takes two hours to get to by four-wheel drive. I scout and choose the sites myself. Meantime, preparation for a luxury dining experience is underway.
It’s time for dinner. There are, say, twelve guests, and I’ll seat them inside the tent at tables with white linens, china and candlelight. Add Johnny Cash, wild game, usually elk or filet mignon. This will be followed by a second and third course of pan fried trout, quail, or whatever I feel best fits the occasion. (Wild boar, quail, duck or pheasant.) All the dishes should have an in-the-wild theme.
Being surrounded by the rugged ranges and peaks of the Cascade Mountains brings out a great combination of amazement and happiness in my guests. People love eating and drinking in the wild. The smell of wood smoke brings out good memories. Guests love checking on the wood stove and keeping it fed. Sometimes the men will want to chop kindling and I’ll say go for it. Sometimes the women will want to smoke cigars. Have one on me. Elk camp is just plain fun—guests don’t want to leave. And neither do I!”
Elk Roast with Caramelized Onions and Wild Mushrooms
Ingredients for Elk Roast
24 oz. elk roast
1 chopped Walla Walla onion
3 cloves garlic
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup red wine
32 oz. veal stock/beef stock
2 tablespoons butter
Ingredients for Onions & Mushrooms
8 oz. wild mushrooms
1 chopped Walla Walla onion
Prepare the Elk Roast:
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. In an oven safe pot, sear elk until browned on all sides. Add onion, garlic, bay leaf, peppercorn, thyme and red wine and cook for 2 minutes and add the veal stock. Cover with a lid or foil and put in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
3. Remove roast from the oven and let rest on a tray. Simmer the braising liquid on the stovetop and reduce until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon without running off. Strain the liquid and whisk in butter. Hold sauce on low heat. Slice roast one-inch thick on a bias.
Caramelized Onions & Wild Mushrooms:
1. Slice onion and sauté on medium/low heat until caramelized, about 10 minutes.
2. Turn up the heat to medium/high and add the mushrooms. Saute mushrooms for 3 minutes.
Serve the sliced elk on caramelized onions and wild mushrooms and top with veal demi glace.
Pair with: Fuller-bodied, earthy red wines to match the bold demi glace and game flavors, such as Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah or your favorite red blend
Get the Cookbook (filled with stories and photos)
You can find a copy of the cookbook, In Search of Duende, at Russell’s Restaurant in Bothell or online at www.RussellLowell.com