No exploration of nose-to-tail cookery is complete without fries. Fries, cowboy caviar, Montana tendergroins, stones, eggs, prairie oysters, one of the true, unvarnished rites of the American West. You know what I’m talking about – that legendary enhancer of masculinity and culinary oddity, bull’s testicles.
Weird, rubbery and not very appealing in the raw, once cooked they lose their squidginess and offer a rich, mildly organish flavor and scallop-like texture. Best fried with a crispy, seasoned coating, most people find them tasty, that is if you’ve remembered to save full disclosure for AFTER dinner.
These days, oysters aren’t so easy to come by. American calves are more often banded rather than castrated, so the testicles simply dry up and fall off. But out in the less tame West where cowboying is still a way of life, at branding time calves are castrated and their testacles saved in a bucket of water. Later, they are peeled, washed, rolled in flour and pepper and fried in a pan.
Once you’ve found your oysters, try this easy method I learned from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s gorgeous Bible of responsibly delicious meat eating, The River Cottage Meat Book:
- Before cooking, blanch in boiling water for about two minutes, refresh under cold water, then skin immediately.
- Marinate the blanched, skinned testicles in a couple of tablespoons each of olive oil and vinegar, a sliced onion and a few sprigs of thyme and parsley.
- Change this marinade after an hour. To the fresh marinade add the juice of one lemon and rest for an additional two hours before cooking.
- Slice the oysters into three or four pieces, toss in well-seasoned flour and fry in hot butter or oil until golden brown (about six minutes).
I like mine served Po’ boy style – super hot with crackly breading on a crispy French bun heaped with slaw and with a sharp, lemony vinaigrette into which you have stirred finely chopped parsley and shallots.
And, a little hot sauce is always a great idea.
Feel free to disagree, but in my opinion, a Rocky Mountain Po’ Boy is no occasion for pretense. As much as I love all the amazing craft brews available today, there’s still a place for inexpensive commercial brews and this is one. Light, crisp, highly carbonated and super-chilled, standbys like Miller Light and Natural Ice perfectly balance the richness of salty, fried foods.
Not a beer drinker? Try a light, acidic, refreshing and crisp wine like an inexpensive Pino Grigio, Prosecco or Savignon blanc.
“Rocky Mountain oysters are mostly like scallops in consistency, without the briny taste, and not any more off-putting than, say, a corn dog.” – Modern Farmer
How game are you? Would you, could you give the Rocky Mountain Po’ Boy a go?