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Considered a delicacy, Rocky Mountain oysters are animal testicles, usually bull or buffalo, that are most often breaded and fried. Originating in the Rocky Mountain region in the United States, Rocky Mountain oysters are served at yearly festivals in areas of Montana and can be found as appetizers in some restaurants around the country. There are many variations on exactly how these unusual appetizers are made, but the general preparation is the same.
Also called prairie oysters and calf fries, fresh Rocky Mountain oysters are not usually sold at local groceries stores or even specialty meat stores. Butchers, however, may be able to order a supply if asked, and shoppers may be able to find them frozen at certain specialty stores. Testicles are often removed from a calf when he is branded, but may also be removed from adult bulls. The calf testicles are smaller and more tender so are the preferred meat to use.
Called oysters because of their superficial resemblance to actual oysters, testicles should be an off-white to tan color and will need to have the skin peeled. Also, a tough muscle surrounding the meat must be cut away with a sharp knife before breading. Once all the meat is trimmed and peeled, it is soaked for an hour or two in salt water or beer. Some recipes call for sugar to be added to the water or for the meat to be transferred from water to milk half way through the soaking process.
Most recipes suggest parboiling, or partially cooking the meat prior to frying, to ensure the oysters are cooked through when complete. Parboiling is generally done in water with vinegar. Once parboiled, oysters are usually sliced and then breaded. Breading consists of flour, cornmeal, eggs, salt and pepper, and may also include garlic powder. When breading, some recipes suggest layering the breading and dipping each oyster in milk or wine after each breading layer.
Once breaded, the meat is deep fried in vegetable or peanut oil. There should be enough oil in the pan to completely cover the oysters, and they will rise to the surface when cooked through. Rocky Mountain oysters are often served with hot sauce.
The delicacy may also be made from the testicles of other animals, including turkeys. Turkey testicles are located inside the turkey's body near its gizzard and are removed when the turkey is slaughtered for food. Turkey testicles are popular in certain areas; Byron, Illinois, for example, has an annual Turkey Testicle Festival shortly before Thanksgiving.
@indigomoth - They are actually not that bad. They taste a little bit like sweetbreads if they are cooked properly. People get too hung up on what they are eating instead of focusing on the taste.
Although I've never had turkey testicles before, to be fair. It seems like bull and ram testicles are much more popular. I know that during the lambing season, when they cut the little male lambs to make sure they don't turn into rams when they are older, the farmers don't waste the testicles, they have a fry up with them at the end of the day.
One of my favorite stories about being a volunteer in West Africa involves this kind of food. I was visiting some other volunteers for Thanksgiving, since it was nice to celebrate it together and they had managed to find the only man in the whole city that sold turkeys (which weren't a traditional bird over there). We went and got them on the morning of the holiday and he offered to slaughter them for us on the spot. We were used to this kind of thing by now, since it was customary for someone to slaughter an animal for you so you would know it was fresh (no fridges there).
He pulled out the testicles of the turkey to make
sure we knew they were there and told us it was the very best part and how we should cook them. We were open minded, but not that open minded. There was one of us who had had rocky mountain oysters before and didn't want to repeat the experience! But the man kept waving this handful of turkey testicle at us. In the end we insisted we keep them as a token of our esteem and he was very impressed with our generosity.
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