Rocky Mountain oysters
|Alternative names||Meat balls, prairie oysters, calf fries, cowboy oysters|
|Region or state||Western North America and South America|
|Main ingredients||Testicles (bull calf), flour, pepper and, salt|
|1 cup = 182 Calories kcal|
Rocky Mountain oysters or mountain oysters, or meat balls, also known as prairie oysters in Canada (French: animelles), is a dish made of bull testicles. The organs are often deep-fried after being skinned, coated in flour, pepper and salt, and sometimes pounded flat. This delicacy is most often served as an appetizer.
The dish is served in parts of Canada, where cattle ranching is prevalent and castration of young male animals is common. "Prairie oysters" is the preferred name in Canada where they are served in a demi-glace. In Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle, they are often called calf fries. In Spain, Argentina and many parts of Mexico they are referred to as criadillas, and they are colloquially referred to as huevos de toro (literally, "bull’s eggs"; besides its literal meaning, huevos is a Spanish slang term for testicles) in Central and South America. Rocky Mountain oysters are sometimes confused because of their appearance with cattle fries or animelles (cattle testicles), which are served in a similar manner. A few other terms, such as "cowboy caviar", "Montana tendergroins", "dusted nuts", "swinging beef", or simply "mountain oysters" may be used.
The dish, purportedly cowboy fare, is most commonly found served at festivals, amongst ranching families, or at certain specialty eating establishments and bars. They are, however, also readily available at some public venues (e.g., at Coors Field during Colorado Rockies baseball games). Eagle, Idaho, claims to have the "World's Largest Rocky Mountain Oyster Feed" during its Eagle Fun Days (now held the second weekend in July). Clinton, Montana; Deerfield, Michigan; Huntley, Illinois; Sesser, Illinois; Olean, Missouri; Severance, Colorado; and Tiro, Ohio also hold testicle festivals. Rocky Mountain oysters are sometimes served as a prank to those unaware of the origin of these "oysters". They are also considered to be an aphrodisiac by many people.
The primary goal of testicle removal is not culinary. Castration in veterinary practice and animal husbandry is common and serves a variety of purposes, including the control of breeding, the growth of skeletal muscle suitable for beef, and temperament alteration.
Testicles from other animals can also be used in similar dishes. The most common is lamb fries (not to be confused with lamb's fry which is another term for liver of lamb) made with testicles from castrated sheep. In some cases, pig testicles are used as well to make "pig fries".
Another dish found on occasion is turkey fries made from turkey testes. These are sometimes known as "short fries" as well.
In popular culture
- In season 2, episode 4 "Dancing in the Dark" (2008) of the Canadian television series Heartland, Scott Cardinal asks the unexpected guests from the Dude Ranch if they have ever had a prairie oyster, to which they reply "No, but we love seafood".
- In season 7, episode 21 "Goodbye Michael" (2011) of the American television series The Office (American TV series), Dwight presents Michael with rocky mountain oysters while atop the Dunder-Mifflin office building.
- In season 8, episode 21 "Shawn And Gus Truck Things Up" (2014) of the American television series "Psych", Character replys back to Gus, "Those aren't meatballs, honey. Those are prairie balls."
- In season 15, episode 12 "Sunday Supper" (2017) of the American television series Top Chef, the chefs prepared and cooked Rocky Mountain Oysters as a Quickfire Challenge to present it to be judged on Top Chef: Colorado.
- In season 5, episode 6 "Chapter 60" (2017) of the American television series House of Cards, Raymond Tusk offers Mountain oysters to Frank Underwood, to which he replies, "You mean bull's testicles, don't you? I prefer to call things what they are."
- In the Try Guys series Without A Recipe, Eugene uses Rocky Mountain Oysters for his mac and cheese recipe in Episode 16.
- Fried clams
- Lamb fry
- List of beef dishes
- List of deep fried foods
- List of delicacies
- List of hors d'oeuvre
- Oyster omelette
- Soup Number Five
- Helou, Anissa (12 August 2011). "An A to Z of offal". The Guardian. Guardian News & Media Limited.
- Linda Stradley, http://www.deependdining.com/2004/09/rocky-mountain-oysters-old-mill-cedar.html
- metacafe.com. "Testicle Festival in Calgary Alberta". Metacafe.
- "Pensando En Los Huevos Del Toro - Eltiempo.Com". Archived from the original on 2012-07-31.
- Stradley, Linda (20 May 2015). "Rocky Mountain Oysters Recipe and History".
- "Cowboy Grub, by Richard W. Slatta, proprietor of the Lazy S Ranch: Where cowboys roam the Old West".
- "Welcome to Eagle".
- Runyon, Luke (October 20, 2016). "Rocky Mountain Oysters Are What?! We Try A Dish Of Cowboy Lore". The Salt. NPR. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
- "Castration: Not Cutting Will Cut Profits". www.cals.ncsu.edu.
- Earles, Jim. "Rocky Mountain Oysters: Expanding on the List of Organ Meats," The Weston A. Price Foundation.
- Brown, Patricia Leigh. "Delicacy of the Wild West Lives on for Those So Bold," The New York Times, Wednesday, March 18, 2009.
- Lakey, Dwight, Songwriter. "Rocky Mountain Oysters," Songwriter Dwight Lakey's (ASCAP) song about Rocky Mountain oysters, © 2007 Brown Barn Publishing & Dwight Lakey, Danville, VT, & Julesburg, CO; All Rights Reserved.