“There really are not recipes, only millions of variations sparked by someone’s imagination and desire to be a little creative and different. American cooking is built, after all, on variations of old recipes from around the world.” – James Beard
James Beard, the iconic American Chef, was born in Portland Oregon. The “Dean of American cookery” is a Northwest Native. Over his long career in the food industry Beard showcased innumerable dishes in his books, on his TV show and at his restaurants. Some of his many cookbooks include Cook it Outdoors, The Complete Book of Outdoor Cookery and Fowl and Game Cookery.
The first American celebrity chef was an avid game cook, and we can all learn a lot from him.
One dish that is a definitive “classic” is the “Chicken 40” or Roast Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic. A simple Provencal French dish with, seemingly, a boatload of garlic. But the garlic cooks over time and completely loses is punch. Instead the dish becomes soft and subtle, the garlic begins to fall apart and thicken the sauce.
It was my goal to get those subtle garlic tones in a venison dish. I wanted that fork tender eating like you’d get with a chicken, but with venison. To do that I needed nothing but time in the oven to break down the meat.
Traditional pot roasts can be great, but often leave a hole in the flavor center for me. I like more flavor than they often provide. So using a “boatload” of garlic as a part of my pot roast liquid the dish really shines.
½ cup flour
2 lbs Venison “Roast”
¼ cup olive oil
“40” ish cloves of garlic
½ yellow onion, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 oz dried mushrooms (I used morels from the prior spring)
½ cup white wine
1 lemon, cut in half
1 can “less sodium” chicken stock
10 sprigs fresh thyme
½ stick butter
Pre heat oven to 35o degrees. In a medium sized bowl add the flour. Roll the “roast” in the flour to evenly coat. Add the olive oil to a thick bottomed 10 inch cast iron pan (or something like it). Heat over medium until oil is almost smoking. Carefully add the roast and brown on all sides.
When roast is brown add the garlic and onion to the pan, let them cook with the roast for 3 minutes. Next add the bay leaves, lemon, mushrooms and white wine. When all comes to a boil add the chicken stock and fresh thyme sprigs.
Tightly cover pan with foil. Place into the oven and check on it in 3 hours. The meat should shred easily with a fork. If it does not shred easily give the meat more time and add liquid – about ½ cup per half hour until meat is tender.
When the meat is fork tender remove the thyme sprigs, lemon and bay leaves. Shred the meat with two forks and smash most of the garlic cloves. Next add ½ stick of butter to the pan and bring it to a simmer.
The sauce should be a little thickened at this point. Serve with your favorite “pot roast” accompaniments. (In my case I served it with roasted potatoes and broccoli)