Considered a delicacy, Rocky Mountain oysters are animal testicles, usually bull or buffalo, that are most often breaded and fried. Originating in the Rocky Mountain region in the United States, Rocky Mountain oysters are served at yearly festivals in areas of Montana and can be found as appetizers in some restaurants around the country. There are many variations on exactly how these unusual appetizers are made, but the general preparation is the same.
Also called prairie oysters and calf fries, fresh Rocky Mountain oysters are not usually sold at local groceries stores or even specialty meat stores. Butchers, however, may be able to order a supply if asked, and shoppers may be able to find them frozen at certain specialty stores. Testicles are often removed from a calf when he is branded, but may also be removed from adult bulls. The calf testicles are smaller and more tender so are the preferred meat to use.
Called oysters because of their superficial resemblance to actual oysters, testicles should be an off-white to tan color and will need to have the skin peeled. Also, a tough muscle surrounding the meat must be cut away with a sharp knife before breading. Once all the meat is trimmed and peeled, it is soaked for an hour or two in salt water or beer. Some recipes call for sugar to be added to the water or for the meat to be transferred from water to milk half way through the soaking process.
Most recipes suggest parboiling, or partially cooking the meat prior to frying, to ensure the oysters are cooked through when complete. Parboiling is generally done in water with vinegar. Once parboiled, oysters are usually sliced and then breaded. Breading consists of flour, cornmeal, eggs, salt and pepper, and may also include garlic powder. When breading, some recipes suggest layering the breading and dipping each oyster in milk or wine after each breading layer.
Once breaded, the meat is deep fried in vegetable or peanut oil. There should be enough oil in the pan to completely cover the oysters, and they will rise to the surface when cooked through. Rocky Mountain oysters are often served with hot sauce.
The delicacy may also be made from the testicles of other animals, including turkeys. Turkey testicles are located inside the turkey's body near its gizzard and are removed when the turkey is slaughtered for food. Turkey testicles are popular in certain areas; Byron, Illinois, for example, has an annual Turkey Testicle Festival shortly before Thanksgiving.