Rocky mountain oysters are the original sack lunch, and a regional delicacy of the Rocky Mountain region and the American West as well as parts of Mexico and Canada.
They're an organ meat that's underappreciated, sure, but considering what part of the animal they come from that's easy to understand. As a chef trained in whole animal butchery eating nose-to-tail is the only logical thing for me to do.
Here I'm going to share with you everything I know about harvesting, processing and cooking this special organ meat.
They're best known as Rocky Mountain Oysters, but, depending on the location they may go under different, colorful names. Here's a few examples:
- Bull fries or calf fries
- Bull’s eggs
- Montana tendergroins
- Swinging beef
- Prairie oysters
- Cowboy caviar
They're a local delicacy with a unique flavor still served in historic saloons, and an important part of American cowboy culture. There's even annual testicle festivals in North Texas, and Rocky Mountain Oyster day in Colorado.
Laugh all you want at the idea of communal nut frys and testy fests, but as long as they're prepared correctly these can be a delicious novelty dish. They're also one of the most inexpensive sources of food I know of, as pounds of bull testicles will cost about $4.99 each.
Full disclosure: I typically eat lamb fries as I have access to plenty, but the method for preparing and cooking here will apply to any similar animal.
Every animal tastes different
I've eaten pork testicles, as well as beef, goat, boar, lamb, duck and venison, and one thing I've learned is that some are an acquired taste, but not all.
Goat, lamb and boar have a strong gamey flavor, but pork and beef are mild, making them the best ones to start with if it's your first time, especially with a side of cocktail sauce or horseradish sauce.
The texture is one of the things that makes fries special. After your first bite, you'll notice they're meaty and firm, but soft, with a texture similar to a fine sausage or a hot dog. They have a different texture than most skeletal muscles.
If you or members of your family don't like offal like liver or kidneys, the firm texture makes these a good candidate for introducing people to offal, especially if you bread and fry them golden brown.
How to Prepare Rocky Mountain Oysters
Typically testicles are harvested from young bulls, spring calves or rams by cutting off the entire scrotum with a sharp knife. Ouch.
I butcher animals myself, so my pictures illustrate more of the process than others will. The only thing that's been done to the lamb testicles you'll see here is removing the furry scrotum after butchering, which peels off easily.
Removing the Membranes
Most testicles are going to come to you with the outer membrane removed. If all you have is the inner membrane attached, all you have to do is make a thin cut in the outer membrane, then peel it off to reveal the meat.
If you bought your fries, they probably won't have the thick membrane pictured below, so you can skip to par-cooking.
Remove the Outer membrane (if attached)
Removing the thin, inner membrane
Revealing the inner meat
There's a variety of ways to cook your tasty testes. Typically they're peeled and cooked in water, then sliced, breaded and fried. They can also be pounded flat before breading.
Fried Rocky Mountain Oysters
If you want traditional Rocky Mountain oysters dredged in a flour mixture and fried, try my method for trimming. Then fry them up and pass the hot sauce.
Smoking is a great alternative to frying. Put some slices out with cheese and cured meats and watch them disappear! If you want to try that, see my smoked rocky mountain oysters.
How to Cook Mountain Oysters
- 1 Sharp paring knife
- rocky mountain oysters from lamb, beef or pork with outer sheath attached
- Milk or water optional
Trimming fresh testicles
- Put the testicles on a cutting board and cut the ends off each one.
- Carefully remove the thick outer membrane.
- Make an incision in the thin inner membrane, then carefully peel the membrane back to reveal the inner meat.
- From here, the testicles can be cooked, breaded and fried, or prepared however you like.
To par cook (if the inner sheath sticks)
- Cover the testicles with 2 inches of water and bring to a simmer. Cook for ten minutes.
- After ten minutes, remove the testicles and cool until you can handle them. Then trim and remove the sheath and inner membrane.
Hi the recipe itself is well explained and seems easy to follow ---it's just that the main ingredient is fucking disgusting , must be a cultural thing ---I'm not American
Frank, this website is my house. Don't come in and shit on my carpet.
😆. Great answer!
I’m British but live in the USA. I’m game for anything to eat. Thanks for the recipe! I’ll be ordering them soon!😄
Absolutely perfect reply!
I've always been curious to try them. Now that I have some good recipe options, I can't wait to try!! As far as Frank, don't sweat it. Assholes can't help but shit everywhere.
LOL. True. Thanks Tom.
Going to use this recipe when I make it for the first time. Good tips, can’t wait!
Thanks Dee. If you have any questions or need advice I'm here.
Maybe we should cook you up some titties .
Done it already. Last year I used this recipe on the mammaries of a pregnant ewe I butchered on Easter, of all the days. It tasted like eating meat soaked in fermented goat milk. Bovine mammary is known as poppa in Italy and said to be very good though. I did eat the unborn fetus though.
Alan, I'm from Oklahoma and been eating "Calf Fries" since I was a pup, now 81, live in E.Tn. Have missed eating them for 20+ years. Got them when I'd go home to visit. Wife ordered some from a local rancher just for me. We'll try one of your recipes. Thanks, James C.
Thanks for sharing James. Let me know how they work for you.
Then keep the nasty comments to your sad silly self. You must have plenty to eat. Or have no taste what so ever.
"They're also one of the most inexpensive sources of food I know of, as pounds of bull testicles will cost about $4.99 each."
Yet ground chuck is still about $3/lb at HEB.
The prices of beef and the wholesale meat market fluctuate, but, generally speaking, offal is, and will always be an economical choice. I also think it's good to be skeptical of meat that's cheaper than average.
I need a recipe for LAMB fries and do know where you want be bought. I live in Oklaoma City
Check with your local butcher. My smoked lamb fries are great.
I need a real recipe for hog nuts, I've never seen anyone soak, brine or anything your talking about. Just tell me a simple recipe for frying. I'm African American we don't do all that. Thanks in advance.
Peel, cut into slices, dredge and fry. There’s your recipe. I'd watch your tone with how you address me here too.
I just loved this. No one could even tell that what they were until I told them. Great texture like sausage or lunch meat.
I made this for a football party we host each year as a gag. Boy was I surprised. Smoked and sliced on a churcuterie plate with cheese and pickles. This were absolutely the best way I had fries as we call them in my house. RAVE REVIEWS CHEF!!! Cheers from Texas.
Great recipe/explanation. I was really skeptical at first but I have to tell you I am sold on this what a great treat for fotball games.
Doesn't any cook worth their salt understand that soaking a meat in milk or brining it will create a more uniformly tender end product, much less infuse any spice added to a soak or brine into the meat?
A soak of buttermilk and a few (or more depending on ability to handle spice) dashes of Sriracha for the win in just about any meat frying, especially tougher meats that become rubbery if overcooked.
*Sriracha and/or smoky habanero Tabasco*
The lactic acids and the vinegar breaks down the tissue, tenderizing and preventing a dry rubbery end result . Some meats need only a short soak/brine/marinade dye to being a naturally tender meat, others may need longer. Anyone can transform even the cheapest, toughest, overlooked cuts into a masterpiece with a simple soak/brine/marinade. Just need to know how long is too long for each meat.
We certainly do soak, brine ... and all that. And not just deez nuts, but plenty of other offal, too.
I was working in Saudi and living in a camp. One of fellow colleagues came over and challenged me to eat something he had cooked in his room not knowing what it tasted like I gave it a try and was impressed with the mild taste. I found the recipe easy to follow and now the difficult part is to find a butcher who will sell them to me in Durban South Africa
Thanks for the helpful to. Have you tried smoking then frying? One more question.... is milk or buttermilk bath a must? I don't remember that part growing up. Thanks again
You can soak them in salt water if you want. Yes I've eaten these cooked and they're just fine, just don't overcook them.
Thank you for your help. We purchase lambs from a farmer, and get all the parts from our butcher. I have not known exactly what to do with the organ meats other than heart and liver, and your post will help. Smoked fries sound wonderful!
Glad it was helpful Grace.
Appreciate the help. Decided to try these and our local store only had 10 pound boxes, so it was all in or nothing. Glad it turned out I liked them! The tips on here helped insure that.
10 pounds is a lot. Glad it worked for you.
can you air fry them? i just picked mine up yesterday and cooking tomorrow (Pork) I've always just fried.
I haven't used one but I don't see why not. I'd try it.
Can they be used in a stew or would they just fall apart?
Oh no they'll hold up in a stew just like sausage. Similar texture.
I really want to try to smoked testikels. In your recipe you mention brine for 4 days but in your video you say 24hrs. Could you please help me which time I should use.
That was a slip of the tongue there. Sometimes I get a little more casual on video descriptions than is probably good. you can get away with 24 hours in a pinch, if you absolutely have to, but the best flavor will come from 2-4 days in the brine.
Q: if I removed the membranes, is it too late to soak them in milk or brine? Or is fine?
PS I appreciate your knowledge that you share here. (Plus not taking any flack from the impolite people of the internet)
Christa, it's fine to soak them after you remove the membranes! And thank you.
I'm looking for a way to cook javelina nuts. Do you maybe know of a good recipe so that I may eat these delicacies.
Javelina? Excellent. So, I'm going to assume they're similar to boar since I know those peccaries can be stinky. Try my brining and smoking method first. Smoked Rocky Mountain Oysters.
Had the opportunity to cook these using bull testicles… dredged them in seasoned flour, then egg then seasoned panko crumbs. Fried golden brown and served with sautéed peppers, onions and mushrooms, delicatessen!! Look forward to serving at next party!!
Glad it worked for you Colleen. It's about time I pulled some more from the freezer.
Hi Alan thank you so much for your site. I love to cook and like you feel you should respect the animal from one end to the other.
I’m always up for a challenge and after having a request from my son-out-law (they’re not married) for testicles I was there but didn’t have a clue where to start - not a recipe found in you average cook book!
So now I have the testicles, thanks to my butcher, the knowledge and recipe on how to cook them I can go full steam ahead.
Along with my thanks I will be raising a glass to you when we have our meal.
Thanks Diana, let me know how they work for you!
Do you know if safe to freeze prior to cooking? My son brought home calf fries from work but we won't be able to cook until the weekend. He doesn't want them to go bad.
Yes it's fine to freeze them raw, uncooked. If they're frozen after cooking the texture will suffer from ice crystals tearing the flesh.