Thursday, December 25, 2014

Lamb Testicles - Breaded and Fried

Cattlemen's Steakhouse in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma has an innocuous menu item, both as an appetizer and as an entree, labeled "lamb fries." Interestingly, on the website no description follows the item, unlike other menu items that are more self-descriptive: rib eye steak is described as "center cut from the eye of the rib"; filet mignon is "choice cut of beef tenderloin"; t-bone steak is "two steaks in one...the full flavor of the strip sirloin, the impeccable tenderness of the filet and joined together by the famous 'T'".  I love lamb and "lamb fries," a term I'd never heard before, was the only mention of lamb on an otherwise beef-centric menu. My interest was piqued. Further perusal of the website cited a revealing reference to the restaurant in the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. A quote from the book about Cattlemen's says, "If you want to go local with the spur-wearing cowboys, dig into a plate of lamb fries - sliced and fried testicles of young lambs, a dish that makes most out-of-towners shudder." 

I've had bull testicles, buffalo testicles and turkey testicles, but never lamb testicles. Cattlemen's and its lamb fries found its way on to my "to do" list for our trip to Oklahoma. 

We ordered lamb fries as an appetizer. My reaction to the first taste was one of disgust. The piece was so heavily breaded and fried that I couldn't taste anything else, an all-too-common feature of unusual meats cooked southern style. You can hide the identity of anything if you put enough breading on it and fry it long enough (the common malady of alligator served in Louisiana). I ate several more pieces and finally got one with enough testicle in it to taste and identify it. The testicle was a little fibrous, like kidney or octopus, and had just a bit of the distinctive deep, earthy testicle taste. Fortunately, there were a few more pieces with more testicle than breading. 
Lamb fries, or testicles, at Cattlemen's in Oklahoma City.
The plate came with a half-lemon and some "hot sauce" which was "Oklahoma hot," as in "not." It had a "Clamato," taste, I could have drunk it, with just a hint of horse radish. The lemon and hot sauce added some variety to the lamb fries but they were not a great addition. 
This side-ways cut view shows the testicle inside - a large enough piece to actually taste the meat. 
By comparison, this heavy cornmeal breading was armor-plating compared to the lighter wheat-flour breading I've had on most of the other testicles I've eaten. Most testicles also come with a much thicker and stronger cocktail sauce, very similar to the store-bought crab cocktail, with heavier concentrations of horse radish. 

By order of preference, in my limited testicle taste testing, the buffalo testicles at The Fort in Morrison, Colorado are way above any others, next would be the turkey testicles at F. McLintocks in Pismo Beach, California, then the bull testicles at the Buckhorn Exchange in Denver. The bull testicles at Carnivore in Nairobi, Kenya, which were not breaded at all, would rate last, behind the lamb testicles at Cattlemen's.