Here’s all you need to know about cooking wild game: Kate Krukowski Gooding. From her cookbooks to her stage performances, Kate is simply the best. She serves the best beaver stew, for sure, and when she prepared and served it at the Maine Harvest Festival in Bangor in 2014, everyone – and yes, I mean everyone – raved about it. At this year’s festival, she made two amazing lasagnas featuring wild game meat and Beast Feast Maine sauces.
Kate has written four popular cookbooks: Wild Maine Recipes, 50 Ways to Eat a Beaver, Free Range Fish&Lobster, and Simple Gourmet Lamb. In some of the books she includes side dishes and wine pairings. You can order all of Kate’s books online at the Islandport Press website, or from your local bookstore. These books would make great Christmas presents.
My personal favorite is Wild Maine Recipes. It includes recipes for wild game, birds, seafood, vegetables, salads, and desserts, with additional information about spices, sauces and marinades. She even gives you nine cocktail recipes, in a section titled, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” and another section of things to do in Maine in Winter, Mud Season, Black Fly Season, and Tourist Season. Yes, Kate has a great sense of humor!
Of course, you can use any meat in Kate’s recipes, so even if you don’t eat wild game meat, you can use the recipes. And her fish recipes are superb as well.
Kate is as close as you can get to being a real Mainer without having been born here. Maine became her permanent home in 1976. She’s a self-trained chef who worked at and managed restaurants and catered events, functions, and private parties. The photos and art work in her books were all provided by friends.
Towards the end of her stage presentation at this year’s Maine Harvest Festival, the audience got to ask her questions. I asked Kate what the most unusual Maine critter is that she’s cooked. She thought for a moment and said it was raccoon. Her husband Don brought back from a trip some meat of an Iguana and a Python, along with Lama Tongue. Yes, this couple is adventurous! Kate is actually writing a Python cookbook to sell to Floridians who now sponsor a hunt for those invasive beasts that have taken over their wetlands.
I also asked Kate if she’d ever cooked road kill and was surprised when she said she has not. Later that question gave me a chance to tell her my road kill story. I was out for a walk one early morning and found a fresh road-killed grouse. As I was picking it up, a car went by, driven by a teacher who, when she got to school, told my teacher-wife Linda that she was probably cooking grouse for dinner that night. Too late. I ate it for lunch!
Kate also told a story about a bobcat that was given to her by a friend. It sat in her freezer for a year. And, she said, “It looked like a cat so I couldn’t cook it. I put it out for the coyotes.” I am sure they enjoyed it! And you will enjoy – for years to come – her cookbooks.