Photos by Fran Shelton of Beaverton, Oregon taken at the Barney Prines Steakhouse and Saloon Restaurant in Prineville, Oregon.
Rocky Mountain Oysters Recipe:
2 pounds calf testicles*
2 cups beer
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
* Be sure to ask your butcher for calf testicles, not bull testicles. Calf testicles are the size of a walnut and are much more tender than the larger bull testicles.
** Use enough vegetable oil to fill your frying container halfway to the top (to allow for bubbling up and splattering) and to completely cover calf testicles while frying.
With a very sharp knife, split the tough skin-like muscle that surrounds each testicle. Remove the skin (you can remove the skin easily if the testicles are frozen, then peel while thawing). Either leave whole or slice each testicle into approximately 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick ovals.
Place slices in a large pan or blow with enough beer to cover them; cover and let sit 2 hours.
In a shallow bowl, combine eggs, flour, cornmeal, salt, and pepper to make a wet flour dredge or closer to a batter consistency.
Remove testicles from beer; drain and dredge thoroughly in the wet flour dredge.
In a large, deep pot, heat oil to 375 degrees F. Deep fry 3 minutes or until golden brown (will rise to the surface when done). Drain on paper towels.
Serve warm with your favorite hot pepper sauce.
What are Rocky Mountain oysters? They are also known as prairie oysters, Montana tendergroins, cowboy caviar, swinging beef, and calf fries – are true Western delicacies. They are that part of the bull that is removed in his youth so that he may thereby be more tractable, grow meatier, and behave less masculine. When the calves are branded, the testicles are cut off and thrown in a bucket of water. They are then peeled, washed, rolled in flour and pepper, and fried in a pan.
They are considered to be quite a delicacy. Like other organ meats, testicles may be cooked in a variety of ways – deep-fried whole, cut into broad, thin slices, or marinated. At roundups in the old West, cowboys and ranch hands tossed the meat on a hot iron stove. When the calf fries exploded, they were done?
Eating animal genitalia dates back to ancient Roman times, when it was believed that eating a healthy animal’s organ might correct some ailment in the corresponding human organ of the male person eating it. Because of this belief, the practice continues to the present day, especially in Asia, where animal genitalia are considered an aphrodisiac.
The rugged folks of the Rocky Mountain region are not squeamish. Testicle festivals are held every spring and fall in Montana. These festivals can be very rowdy and may not be the best place to bring your children. If you can not get to a festival, many restaurants and bars in Montana, Idaho, and Kansas serve Rocky Mountain oysters all year long and with less fanfare.