Really, really wanted to name this one “Pete’s Balls”. That decision is not indicative of the maturity I approached the whole post with, but it was a dece start.
As many of you already know, “Rocky Mountain Oysters” is the deceptive nickname for bull or calf testicles. Huevos, Criadillas, Bull Fries… doesn’t really matter what you call them, they are still cooked bull’s balls. Now that we’ve made that clear I’ll give a photo of something else and a brief aside to give anyone not interested in seeing this whole thing go down a chance to leave.
Big week for the Ryan’s, one I’ve been waiting for patiently for 4 years; Switchback is now available in bottles! Kristi and I have both loved Switchback since we first tasted it and chose to serve it at our wedding in mason jars. Up until this week, it was only available in kegs, but our long national (national for my universe) nightmare is over. Congrats to Gretchen and the rest of the crew at Switchback, pencil me in for a 12 pack every time I visit VT.
Anyhoo, back to them sex organs. I’ve wanted to try Rocky Mountain Oysters for a long time but I’ve honestly never come across them in all of my travels or market shopping. Kinda gross that testicles were on my food bucket list, but I’ve never claimed to be normal. In late August, while exiting the St. Anthony festival in Boston’s North End I ducked into a halal butcher shop and spotted my culinary holy grail.
Sunday is never a good day for produce buying, and generally the halal butcher shops by the Haymarket smell a little funky, which all added up to this package smelling a little ripe. From my Philly Italian Market experience I knew that half the battle would be getting them out of the packaging and rinsed, so that’s what I did.
Since it was a Sunday night, I was stuffed on arancini, and generally exhausted, I decided to vacuum seal the bag and freeze them for use at a later date.
And into the chest freezer they went for a couple months. I was a little scared of them, due to the ripeness mentioned previously, but knew that my curiosity would get the best of me at some point. That point was this week when Kristi headed to Vermont for a couple nights and I knew I wouldn’t have to deal with horrified looks from her during the prep process.
After thawing, I rinsed thoroughly, and moved to a plastic cutting board to peel them, a process I had done absolutely no research on..
I had my knives good and sharp for this process since the first cut is surface level and basically opens the ball (god I wish I could come up with a better term). Then you remove the contents from the outer layer. The inside is a yellowish/tan color and in no way resembles the outside.
I will call it like it is here: I exercised awful instincts and did a terrible job on the first peeling. I treated it like deboning a chicken or something and made tons of tiny cuts to separate it from the skin. Ended up losing a fair amount of (questionably) edible material and generally it looked like sh*t at the end.
After standing there for a few minutes confounded by how this could be so difficult, I eventually decided to give this another shot by essentially trying to turn the next ball inside out. Welp, turns out it was as easy as that, no knife required after the first cut.
And with that realization, I was able to get through the remaining three in just a few minutes. After removing from the skin, I sliced each ball into four 1/2 inch rounds that looked extremely similar to sea scallops before placing them into an iced saltwater bath.
I let those pieces soak for about an hour to draw out as much funkiness as possible.
My plan was to go traditional with the prep and use about half of the ball meat. Good god that sounds awful. The other half would be used another night and help fill my bare cupboards of reserve post cupboards. So, I started heating a few inches of vegetable oil on the stove top in ‘Lil Blue and set up a breading station.
The breading mixture was half flour/half corn meal, with lots of salt, black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder mixed in for flavor. The beef scallops (ooh, that works) went from the bath, to the egg mixture, then into the breading and onto the wax paper to wait for the oil to come up to heat.
I despise frying stuff due to the smell and general fear of getting burned. Every door in the apartment was closed and the windows were all open to deal with the smell, but the fear of the hot oil was more difficult. I ended up choosing to fry between 325 and 350 instead of the usual 375 for vegetable oil since I had no interest in the bubbling splatters.
After 8-10 minutes in the oil, the “oysters” had taken on a nice golden brown color and you could tell the coating would have a good crunch. I removed them from the oil one by one and transferred to a pile of paper towels to drain.
I spent a few minutes staring at them, letting them cool and seriously contemplating whether I should make a sauce (a caper-y aioli sounded good). Since the smell and look of the Rocky Mountain Oysters was pretty appealing, there wasn’t nearly as much anxious fear as I expected at that moment. Eventually, I just put a couple drops of cholula on one of them and took a bite.
Gotta say, Rocky Mountain Oysters are pretty dece. The flavor is waayyyy less fierce than you would expect, like a very mild fried chicken liver but with the occasional hint of kidney flavor that reminds you that you are eating offal. The texture is also most similar to a soft chicken liver. Not at all the unpleasant eating experience that the rotten gym-towel-bin aroma from the original packaging led me to expect. I ended up eating most of these and then cooking the remaining ball meat (that has become no less awful) the following night, but that will be documented another time. All in all, a good meal and very glad I finally got to cook and sample bull testicles.
Thanks to Brendan for the new, hopefully less offensive blog header. That one is here to stay I think. Got a solid idea for next week’s post, which I plan to get out before Friday for once.