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Rocky Mountain Oysters: Unknown Delectable Meat

Here are some facts about Rocky Mountain Oysters you might not have known.

| January/February 1977

  • Young bull
    "You're gonna do WHAT?!"

  • Young bull

If you live on the land (or reside in town but still butcher your own meat), you probably know a great deal about cutting up and using the main carcass of a cow, hog, etc. Chances are good that you've even learned to save and enjoy some of the many "extras" — brains, tongue, liver, heart, head cheese, souse, oxtail, pigs' trotters, and so on — that come so neatly packaged with that main carcass.

(Using or not using these cuts can mean the difference between butchering economically or wastefully. It can also mean the difference between enjoying some mighty good eating and losing out completely on a few of the most tender, tasty, and nutritious cuts of meat that you're likely to find anywhere.)

Still, there's another (less well-known) "extra" cut of meat that almost all of us waste, whether from ignorance or prejudice. I'm talking about "mountain oysters," the testicles removed from male animals so that they'll develop more quickly and — when later butchered — dress out into meat that is more tender and flavorful.

(Sheep and goats, of course, are usually castrated with special elastic rings nowadays, which means that their testicles are seldom available for use. Such testes are so small that they're hardly worth saving anyway. Pigs and calves, on the other hand, are an entirely different story: It's still general practice to remove their testes surgically...and the glands are definitely large enough to make a meal from.)

Each testicle hangs by a group of tubes (the spermatic duct and blood supply and return) which lead into a twisted mass of tubules. All of this ducting is discarded until only the gland itself — smooth, egg-shaped, creamy white in color, and containing meat of a very fine texture — is left. The testis is then skinned, cut in half lengthwise, and cooked. (And it does look a lot like an oyster when it's prepared.)

Mountain oysters are often just battered — or not battered — and lightly fried...but they're probably the tastiest when broiled, either in the stove or (if possible) over charcoal. About 2 minutes per side-or a total of 4-to-5 minutes in the broiler — is all the cooking the delicious treats need.

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