Reba McEntire is, at heart, just a regular girl from Oklahoma. The fact that she holds the record for the American Music Awards' Favorite Country Female Artist of the year hasn't changed her one bit. Every so often, I like to cook like some of my favorite celebrities and this year, when I was looking for a new holiday recipe, I stumbled upon something I never knew: Reba McEntire's signature holiday dish is Rocky Mountain Oysters.
You know it says something when this respectable woman from Oklahoma blushes, unsure if she can even say it without being censored. "I'll tell you later," she says when the host pressures her to say what it actually is to the audience. She then breaks out in an embarrassed laugh, and it's just got Reba written all over it. Watch for yourself.
That's right, y'all. Reba McEntire's specialty dish is Rocky Mountain Oysters, also known as Mountain Oysters. And what are Mountain Oysters? If you're not sure, they're bull testicles that have been battered and fried. While Reba also calls them Lamb Fries, they're known as a few different names throughout the country. In Canada, they're also known as Prairie Oysters. If they're deep-fried, they become Rocky Mountain Oysters. This controversial delicacy is also called Montana tendergroins, cowboy caviar, swinging beef, dusted nuts, and calf fries.
This isn't the first time Reba made her love of Mountain Oysters clear. She appeared on the Donny & Marie Osmond talk show, with the oysters in tow. She even made Donny try them, much to his dismay.
As she says, eating this bull testes-based dish is a McEntire family tradition. While ranch was served here, she often pairs hers with ketchup. As she explains why it's a family, tradition, it makes sense. Reba grew up in a family of champion steer ropers, and when her dad would get in bulls, they'd castrate them. And what else are you supposed to do with those testicles?
Well, if you're from a hardworking, earnest family that doesn't let things go to waste, you fry 'em. Donny Osmond so rudely spits it out, but we wouldn't mind.
Aside from being served at the McEntire family table, Mountain Oysters are often found at festivals or in ranching communities. They're also available at certain public venues, like the Coors Field during Colorado Rockies baseball games. There are even testicle festivals held throughout the country, in Clinton, Montana, Severance, Colorado, and other states. There's even a historic landmark in Denver, the Buckhorn Exchange, who's been serving this bull gonad delicacy since 1893!
Not only are Mountain Oysters popular, they're also considered by many to be an aphrodisiac. And if you're still unsure, there are various ways to enjoy Rocky Mountain Oysters to make them work for you. Some prefer them breaded, since breading them creates a deliciously crispy exterior. Others go for a side of cocktail sauce or hot sauce. Popular throughout the American West, this offal is considered a tasty appetizer for many a rancher.
How to Make Rocky Mountain Oysters
If you've got a hankering for a taste of the Midwest, then this recipe guide from Serious Eats is worth checking out.
I'll be honest, I've had Rocky Mountain Oysters before. Has anything deep-fried ever tasted bad? The answer is no.
This post was originally published on February 27, 2020.