If you have ever spent time around a cattle roundup, you know that the calf testicles leftover after castration are considered a delicacy. Same goes for pig, goat, duck, turkey, sheep, roosters and other animals. In fact, they are so popular in some locations around the country that entire towns gather for annual “Testicle Festivals." Not only are they a classic country dish, they now grace the menus of some of the most exclusive restaurants in the world, including in New York City and Los Angeles. If you are really into nose-to-tail use of this year's buck, why not try the testicles?
Often given nicknames like fries, mountain oysters, stones or sweetbreads, testicles can be baked, fried, sautéed, poached or grilled. That goes for the ones on your buck, too.
I’ll admit, some folks might be a bit squeamish about trying this delicacy for the first time. To make the introduction easier, try a recipe like this creamy pasta sauce where the buck oysters are just a small complement to the finished dish. Diced bits of buck fries blend with country ham, mushrooms, garlic and parmesan cheese in a rich, buttery sauce for pasta.
1 set of buck testicles, cleaned
1 slice of country ham (6-8 ounces), diced
8 ounces sliced shitake mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic, minced
8 ounces freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 cup heavy cream
1 stick of butter
1 pound pasta, cooked
Start by cleaning the testicles. Remove the sack from the deer and cut away the attached pizzle as close to the testicles as possible. Use your fingers to turn the sack inside out, revealing the testicles, and remove them. Testicles are covered in two layers of membrane. The first needs to be removed by trimming away both ends and peeling it away..
At this point, if you plan to bread and deep fry the meat, you can remove the inner membrane by making a shallow slice down the length of the testicle and peeling it away, leaving behind the oyster-like soft tissue. If you plan to grill, sauté or bake the buck oyster, you can leave the inner membrane on. If you do leave the inner membrane, go ahead and make a shallow slit down the length to prevent the membrane from shrinking as it cooks, causing the testicle to explode.
Start by melting a half stick of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the cleaned testicles. Gently sauté them on all sides for 2 to 3 minutes per side until nearly cooked through. Remove them from the skillet and set aside.
Add the mushrooms and diced country ham to the pan, sautéing until the mushrooms are cooked through and have softened and released their moisture. Add the remaining half stick of butter.
While the mushrooms cook, use a sharp knife to dice the cooked deer fries. They might still be on the soft side at this point, but they will finish cooking in the pan.
Return the meat to the skillet and sauté for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheese and heavy cream. Stir gently until the sauce comes together. Serve over cooked pasta.
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