Editor’s Note: The Best of Bud is a compilation of some of the advice and recipes gathered by the late Ralph W. “Bud” Leavitt, who retired as the Bangor Daily News’ executive sports editor and outdoor editor in the fall of 1988. He continued to write a weekly column for the paper until his death on Dec. 20, 1994. During his nearly half-century as the BDN’s outdoor columnist he penned more than 13,000 columns and one book, “Twelve Months in Maine.”
Mention the name of Alfred G. (Al) Meister and immediately, one dreams of the sporting and explosive Atlantic salmon.
Wherever devotees of Atlantic salmon assemble, be it in the cloakrooms of a Scottish angling club or at The Rips on the Machias, the name Al Meister is tied to this noble and mysterious species of fish.
Meister’s interests, fortunately, run in other directions, too.
He takes unusual delight in trolling Maine lakes for lake trout, big lake trout. He enjoys the experience of making his own fishing flies.
He looks forward to chopping firewood and making repairs on his wilderness retreat in Greenfield. And rather proudly, Meister brags, he dabbles successfully with certain preparations of wild game and fishies he may have taken.
His grouse cordon bleu is one example:
1 grouse per serving
1 slice Swiss cheese; slice thin, 2-by-4-inch strip
1 slice cooked ham, 2-by-4-inch strip
1 slice uncooked bacon
1 teaspoon melted butter
2 or 3 toothpicks and using black pepper, season to taste.
Directions: Bone out breast of grouse. Set bones aside. Wash breast halves in cold water, pat dry. Place Swiss cheese and ham on one half of breast.
Locate other breast half on top, forming what appears like a sandwich. Wrap with slice of bacon. Use toothpicks to pin halves together. Bake until bacon is crisp and cheese has melted.
Baste once with melted butter.
Meister warns against over-cooking.
“You can ruin a perfectly good dish by overcooking. I serve grouse cordon bleu with a tossed salad and a dry white wine,” says Meister.
A resident of Old Town and the state’s foremost Atlantic salmon biologist since the 1948 inception of the Atlantic Sea Run Salmon Commission, Meister practices what he preaches — conservation.
“Don’t waste the bones, legs and wings once you have put them aside and used the partridge breasts for a cordon bleu.
“The remains are excellent for a stew. I boil up the remains, pick from the bones, return the meat to the liquor and keep for soup stock. The next time we bag a nice plump varying hare, a snowshoe rabbit, the soup stock and ingredients are there and waiting. Makes a splendid rabbit stew.”