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.”
In the heart of Carrabassett Valley, deep in the mountain bosom of western Maine, you’ll find Ayotte’s Country Store.
It’s the fall hangout or stopping off point for hunters, skiers and foliage viewers in need of supplies and a bit of cheese ’n’ cracker conversation.
The proprietors, Marth and Richard Ayotte, are elegant hosts and delight in serving superbly prepared game on their dinner table.
Dick Ayotte says he learned to “cook a pa’tridge from an old-timer when I was a kid living in Houlton.”
Ayotte’s “secret” recipe, he swears, is going public for the first time. Here it is:
“Truss two pa’tridges about 1 lb. each, and rub the inside with salt and pepper.
“I then lay two slices of Ayotte’s Country Store salt pork or bacon over the breasts and roast in a preheated 400-degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes, until crisp and brown.
“I now remove the pork 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time and baste over five minutes later.
“Now, here’s where that little extra comes in and makes this way of cooking a pa’tridge elegant and different. I pour an ounce of brandy over each bird and light immediately.
“You then remove the birds to a hot platter.
“Skim off the surplus fat from the pan and add one-third of a cup of Madeira or dry sherry and bring to a boil on top of the stove, stirring until blended and smooth. Pour over the birds and serve at once. And as a final note, I don’t wish to sound commercial, but you can get all the ingredients except the pa’tridge at Ayotte’s Country Store.”
Shin Pond Grouse
Prepare a stuffing of cooked and minced giblets, 3 quarts of stale bread crumbed, 2 large minced garlic cloves, 1 large minced onion, ½ teaspoon ground oregano, 1 teaspoon ground sage, salt, and pepper to taste.
Moisten stuffing ingredients with giblet stock and mix well. Rub inside of bird lightly with butter. Salt and pepper inside and outside of bird to taste. Stuff the bird and close the body cavity, with skewers or twine. Lightly rub outside of bird with butter and then sprinkle very lightly with flour. Roast covered bird at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes per pound until tender.
Remove roaster cover for last few minutes of roasting time.
You’re using an old recipe of Arthur Augustine’s.
Merrymeeting Roast Duck
Fill cavity of duck with 2 medium-sized apples quartered and peeled. Stitch cavity closed. Rub with a slice of onion. Salt and pepper. For an average dressed duck, about 1½ pounds, use 2 teaspoons salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Roast uncovered in 325-degree oven, 30 minutes per pound. During cooking, baste every 10 minutes with small amounts of orange juice.
Tomah Stream Green Peppers
A quickie. Put peppers, one at a time, on a long fork or skewer. Hold over open flame, turning until blistered all over. Put each pepper into a paper bag, as blistered, and leave in closed bag for 15 minutes to steam. Remove, peel, and marinate in ½ cup olive oil, ½ cup wine vinegar mixture. Drain and serve with freshly hooked brook trout.
Tomah Stream Green Peppers will make you want to go fishing again and again.