Bridgton resident Kate Krukowski Gooding seems to be, ahem, game for anything when it comes to eating. Author of “Wild Maine Recipes,” with such items as Thai Moose (tamarind paste, sesame oil, moose steaks) and Roasted Cumin-Rubbed Bear with Cabernet Glaze, she casually dropped Burmese python into a recent conversation about what’s for dinner.

We consider ourselves reasonably adventurous eaters but admit that the mention of beaver in a description of a class she is co-teaching Saturday in Falmouth caught our eye.

We called to ask her for cooking tips for North America’s largest rodent. Part of what scares eaters off about wild game, she told us, is its gamy flavor.

But if the hunter or trapper handles the meat properly and if neither the animal nor the meat is too old, that shouldn’t be a concern.

Excerpts from our conversation follow:

Q: So why don’t most of us eat beaver?


A: Because people think of it as gross, although it’s really good meat because they are herbivores. That’s part of the reason I wrote (my) book, so people get an idea how delicious it is.

When did you first taste it?

A boyfriend took me trapping, and his mother made a dinner for me. She made this delicious beaver in barbecue sauce over buttered noodles, and I was hooked.

You weren’t squeamish?

No. Because I’ll try anything once.

How do people in your classes react to the idea of eating beaver?


The one thing people have a hard time with any kind of wild meat, they are afraid to taste the gaminess. So I start them with dishes that have lots of layers of spices. For the class, I’m making Beaver Bourguignon. If people aren’t used to something, it’s always good to marinate, because a marinade will help flavor the game meat and break it down a little, make it a little more tender. Although beaver itself is tender. Fresh beaver really is yummy.

 Do you eat all parts of the beaver?

I like the legs and the backstraps – the loins. That’s where the most meat is. Well, the loins don’t have a lot of meat, but they are really good. Like a tenderloin. And you can eat the tail, but I don’t like to. I don’t like fat.

So I have to ask – does beaver taste like chicken?

It tastes like a sweet red meat. It’s so red and it’s so good. I had some beaver chili last night. And I just discovered this place in Boyd Lake where they smoke all sorts of things. I am going to have him make me some beaver sopressata and beaver kielbasa. I am so excited. I get like a little kid when I find something new that I know is going to be really awesome.

OK. You’ve convinced me. Say I want beaver for dinner. Where can I buy it?


You have to know a trapper. You can’t buy it.

Peggy Grodinsky is the editor of Food & Dining. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @pgrodinsky

Beaver Chili

From Kate Krukowski Gooding’s “Wild Maine Recipes.” If you don’t happen to have beaver on hand, she suggests “substitute critters”: elk, caribou, venison or moose. And she recommends pairing the chili with cabernet sauvignon.

1/2 pound bacon


3 pounds beaver in 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons Mexican oregano

1 tablespoon roasted ground cumin

1 tablespoon sea salt

1 tablespoon minced garlic


1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 large sweet onion, chopped

Cook bacon in a 3-quart stockpot. Place cooked bacon on paper towel, reserve for another use. Brown the beaver cubes in bacon fat until well-browned. Pour off extra fat, if any (beaver is very lean, and I rarely have fat left over).

Combine meat and all spices in Dutch oven. Mix to coat meat thoroughly. Return to heat. Add 1/2 cup water and cook 10 minutes more. Add onions and simmer for 1 hour. If you need more moisture, add more water.

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