We had a Ball

We knew it was a nutty idea. But we had the balls to give it a shot.

Ever since Kyle and I took our assortment of beers to the Testicle Festival last January to a) try Rocky Mountain Oysters for the first time and b) sort out the best beer pairing for this misunderstood cuisine, I’ve wanted to put together an event of my own. This weekend, we held The Opera House Ball as a fund raiser for our local opera house, which has fallen into disrepair since the 1930s.

For my part, I successfully learned to cook something not everyone has the cajones to delve into, and I encouraged attendees to not only dress up at a dress down event (we called it creative black tie) but also drink the right beer for the occasion: my research identified Vienna lager as a suitable beer, our local example being Millstream Brewing Company’s Schild Brau Amber Lager.

Since I know my readers are into beer and bacon and many of the finer things, I feel it’s my responsibility as a concerned citizen to help you learn how to make your own testicle delight, in the event the need should arise.

This is what they look like when you first get them. You get over the "this is gross" part pretty quickly. It's simply something most Americans don't know about. Testicles don't bite and milk comes from somewhere well beyond a jug.

Step 1: Get testicles: I’ve seen them for $16/pound online, and I believe that to be a frozen and completely prepared for the fryer product. But you should really just go to your local veterinarian and find out what you can acquire–they’ll save them for you–and give them to you for nothing if you talk sweetly.

Step 2: Clean them: Basically, when they cut calves, they slit the scrotum and pull the testicle out and cut it off. Believe it or not, you don’t just throw this in the fryer. There are actually not one, but two thick, strong layers of protective skin you need to cut through with a sharp knife. When I think about my own darned self, I see that I thankfully have some protection I didn’t know I had. It works best when the testicles are just shy of being thawed out. Slice the first layer and it pops right out. Slice the second layer and you get to the meat. Sometimes this pops out easily. Other times you need to work it out with your thumb, or by using a knife as you would when filleting a fish.

That's my friend and fundraising comrade Patty. She was very efficient. And kept up well with all the ball jokes floating around the kitchen (and the whole planning process).

Step 3: Brine your testicles. I’ve seen marinades around, but if you’re cooking up 100 pounds or more, I think it needs to be fairly straight forward. I had two five gallon buckets filled halfway up with water. I added 1.5 cups of salt, 1 cup of sugar and about a cup of white vinegar. Each bucket was topped off about right when filled with about 60 pounds of Rocky Mountain Oysters. Brine about 24 hours.

The biggest balls of all. There's your quarter for perspective. Don't put money in your mouth. You don't know where it's been.

Step 4: Rinse your testicles. One thing I found interesting when we got down to the meat was that they smell (and sorta resemble) scallops. Even moreso after the brine. I rinsed them well and drained them as well as possible. You’ll then want to cut them into bite size pieces–most of our balls were cut in half or in thirds, though we had one big-ass pair that would have made even Bon Scott blush like a school girl by providing us a good dozen bites each.

My hands were a mess during the cooking stage, so you'll just have to imagine that part. Burton is showing us the final product, but what I really like about this picture is his tie--he's one of the local bankers.

Step 5: Heat your oil and prep your breading. I’ve seen recipes that talk about flour, paprika, salt and black pepper, but had a guy with a good ball-frying reputation tell me that he passes them through an egg wash, and then whizzed up saltine crackers for his breading, which made sense to me, as that’s how I do weiner schnitzel. To the saltines, I added just the right amount of black pepper and cayenne.

Step six: Dip in eggs, coat in the cracker mixture. Fry until your breading is nice and brown. You’ll simply need to cut one open to get a feel for what’s right. If it’s still pinkish, you’ll know to cook them longer.

Step seven: Enjoy. They’re good with both cocktail sauce and horseradish, I can attest. I’ve heard that these are fairly typical condiments. As I said, pair them with a Vienna lager, or something up that alley.

All too often, these nut fries appear to be stag parties where hog-shitted boot wearing farmers hang out and drink cheap beer together. We made effort to put together an atmosphere that welcomed women and children. I wore my Valentine pants and a red boa while Michelle wore a tiara with her tie and overalls. Few looked cooler than Tom with his tuxedo t-shirt and black, rose-embroidered 70s cowboy shirt, though they tried. I think the balls tasted better in a little atmosphere and with Dizzy Gillespie pumping through the speakers.

People are weirded out by this misunderstood cuisine, but I say this: What if you never tried chocolate? Or: What if you never discovered good beer? Give it a try, the next time the opportunity comes along. You’ll be glad you did. Better yet, learn to prepare the part of an animal you never thought about, brew a harder beer, build yourself a smoker.

Use the whole freaking buffalo and enrich your life in a ballsy new way!

One Response to We had a Ball

  1. Larry Huen says:

    I used to get these from the animals years ago. We cleaned them and eat them. Would to find a cafe in Portland,Oregon that offers them. Thank you.

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