Last week, we asked our Facebook followers if they’d be game to try Calf Fries. For those of you less familiar with cowboy lingo, that’s one of the many names we’ve given to bull testicles. Y’all have a lot of opinions on the subject — it was one of our most popular posts. The overwhelming answer? Not only would you, but you already have. This is a book about real Texas cowboys, after all, and if you’re following along you probably know a thing or two about cowboy cooking.
Calf Fries on the Waggoner
Once upon a time, Western ranchers needed more cheap & easy nutrition, so they tried eating previously discarded cuts of meat. Like my Mama always told me, “Waste not, want not.” The ranchers grilled, baked, battered, and fried them into all sorts of delicious recipes. The rest is history. The images below are just a few of the unfiltered cowboy life photographs Jeremy Enlow captured in Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch. It’s a real life look at the inner workings of the Waggoner Ranch cattle operations as they were before the sale, from beautiful sunrises to the gritty, hard work the cowboys do daily.
Calf testicles and ears are sorted out in the field after they’re removed.
Waggoner Cowboys keep close track of the ears cut to make sure every calf has been attended to.
Waggoner Cowboy, Daly Welch fills a glove with the day’s collection. This will be supper.
We Westerners weren’t the first ones to enjoy these resourceful recipes. The ancient Romans are the first people we know of that made use of the calf’s testicles. They believed eating organs of a healthy animal would improve the health of the corresponding human organ; thus the common belief that Calf Fries are an aphrodisiac. While we’re not sure about that, these organ meats are a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. There is no measurable effect on the hormone levels of humans who eat them though.
Calf Fries by Any Other Name
These days they’re called Calf Fries, Rocky Mountain Oysters, Cowboy Caviar, Swinging Beef, Prairie Oysters, Dusted Nuts; we’re pretty creative with our euphemisms. Call them what you will, they’re a dish enjoyed by many. See the photos below for a couple of examples of ways modern folks eat Calf Fries.
Calf Fries battered and fried, served with cream gravy.
Calf Fry Pizza
Follow these links for more
- Recipe: Calf Fries with Cracked-Pepper Gravy via Grady Spears and Good Morning America
- Recipe: The Nasty Bits: Testicles, Grilled & Fried via Serious Eats
- Calf Fries: a nutty food quest via Fort Worth Star-Telegram
- 11 Things You Didn’t Know About Rocky Mountain Oysters via Thrillist
- Rocky Mountain Oysters Are What?! We Try a Dish of Cowboy Lore via NPR
- Jeremy Enlow samples calf fries pizza at Cattlemen’s Steakhouse via Instagram