Colorado Cuisine – An Ode to Rockey Mountain Oysters

rocky mountain oysters

Saddle up to any classic Colorado bar or restaurant in town and you might see something seemingly more suitable for a seaside patio than a deck in Steamboat: Rocky Mountain Oysters. 

They’re bull testicles, so you have to really pound them

Before you dive in headfirst trying to impress your date, be forewarned: they’re bovine-based instead of coming from the Deep Blue. Yep, they’re bull testicles, without a pearl among them. But that doesn’t necessarily diminish their culinary delight. 

“It’s one of those items when people come to Colorado that they feel they have to try,” says Dave “DK” Kane, former co-owner of Double Z Barbecue.  “It’s kind of one of those double-dare things. But they’re pretty good when they’re cooked right.”

To do so, DK’s team orders them frozen in 10-lb. boxes, then breads and deep-fries the little sperm nuggets. He adds they’d often go through 10 pounds of the Colorado cajones per week easily, “especially in winter.”

“They’re kind of hard to prepare from scratch,” he says. “They’re bull testicles, so you have to really pound them beforehand.”

As for how they stack up on the menu, he says their popularity is mounting a comeback. “The guys all seem to like them,” he says. “The girls not so much.”

Testicle Trivia

How much do you really know about this Colorado classic?

  • Rocky Mountain Oysters came about when early ranchers, needing inexpensive food, experimented with different cuts of meat and began cooking testicles with branding coals. The nuggets came via castration practices to control breeding, stimulate skeletal muscle growth and regulate temperament.
  • Rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein, the delicacies can be sautéed, braised, broiled, poached and more, and taste like breaded venison or calamari. To cook from scratch, they’re peeled, pounded flat, coated in flour, salt and pepper, and fried.  In Canada they’re often served with a demi-glace; in the US with cocktail sauce.
  • Other names for them include cowboy caviar, prairie oysters, swinging beef, Montana tendergroin, dusted nuts, bollocks, lamb/bull fries and huevos de toro.
  • Ancient Romans believed that consuming the most fertile of animal organs would remedy ailments, particularly in the male nether regions. They also considered them aphrodisiacs.
  • Several Testicle Festivals exist around the country,  the most popular being Clinton, Montana’s annual Testy Festy, a five-day event that attracts 15,000 visitors a year who consume 50,000 lbs. of balls. The event also includes wet T-shirt contests (for men and women), eating races, and the “Undie 500,” a scantily clad tricycle race. 
  • In the movie “Funny Farm,” Chevy Chase unknowingly wolfs down 30 of these babies and breaks a restaurant record before he learns what they actually are.
  • Denver’s Wynkoop Brewery once brewed a Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout, brewed with actual bull testicles. Sold in two-packs for a limited time, it clocked in at 7.5% ABV and three BPB (balls per barrel). The brew reportedly has rich flavors of chocolate, espresso and, you guessed it, nuts.