Landed with bull’s testicles as an ingredient, David Posey’s first instinct was to pair them with cock’s combs—”so it’s cocks and balls,” he says. But after his dehydrator broke down, he had to scrap his plan to dry the combs and then puff them like chicharrones.
He’d never worked with bull’s balls before, though he says they’re a little like sweetbreads, which are regularly on the menu at Blackbird. “I looked online and in a lot of my books and couldn’t find anything,” he said. “But then when I talked to the back waiters and the Spanish guys in the kitchen, they were like, ‘Oh yeah, for sure!’ They told me how to cook ’em, so I kind of took their advice.”
Some traditional recipes call for boiling and then frying bull’s testicles. Most popular in the U.S. are Rocky Mountain oysters, which are the walnut-size testicles of calves. Foss’s supplier sent Posey the balls of a full-grown bull, which are about the size of a medium-large potato.
Posey decided to poach the testicles lightly in a court bouillon, or light broth, then slice them up, dredge them in cornstarch, and fry them. As he readied his knife for the first cut, he winced. “Ugh, I hate this part,” he said.
As the balls fried, he prepared a rutabaga sauerkraut and thinly sliced apples that had been soaking in a caraway-seed tea. “The rutabaga’s got a little spice to it, so that would cut through the fattier, stronger flavor of the testicle,” he said.
He used apple for the same reason, and added caviar because he likes the brininess of it with meat—and “because testicles and eggs go together naturally.”
Dill, which according to Posey goes well with caraway, apples, and rutabaga, finished the dish. Surveying the finished product, he appeared hesitant to dive in.
“I have to taste it?” he asked. Cutting off a small piece, he added, “Notice I’m taking a huge bite.”
He concluded that it was “not bad.” But visitors to Blackbird won’t see balls on the menu anytime soon. “Sweetbreads yes, testicles no.”
More than a week later, he e-mailed me: “I still have nightmares of testicles.”
Paul Virant of Vie, working with spirulina, a blue-green algae often used as a dietary supplement because it’s high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. “It tastes like pond scum,” Posey explained, “a little oceanic, a little briny, kind of like seaweed. It’ll be interesting to see how he creates a whole dish out of it. I’ve gotta see what he’s got.”
Video by Michael Gebert/Sky Full of Bacon
Fried Bull’s Testicles With Sturgeon Caviar, Rutabaga, Granny Smith Apple, and Black Caraway
1 large rutabaga
1 T salt
1/2 t champagne vinegar
1 t butter
Shave the rutabaga into thin strips, coat them with salt, and let sit for half an hour. Rinse off the salt, place in a frying pan with butter, and cook about a minute or until slightly softened. Add the champagne vinegar just before plating.
Apples in Caraway Tea
75 g caraway seed
200 g boiling water
1 Granny Smith apples, sliced into eighths
Pour boiling water over the caraway seeds and steep for two hours. Mix the tea 1:1 with tonic water. Cryovac or soak the apples in the mixture for an hour, then shave into thin slices.
2 bull’s testicles
1 T sturgeon caviar
1/4 t dill stems
1/4 t canola oil
Ground caraway seeds
Rub bull’s testicles with champagne vinegar and olive oil. Let sit for three hours. Bring the white wine, fennel, onion, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme to boil in a pot with enough water to cover. Simmer for an hour. Poach the testicles in the resulting liquid for ten minutes. Allow to cool. Cut into half-inch slices, dredge in cornstarch, and fry in hot oil for one to two minutes per side. Top with apples in caraway tea, and the rutabaga sauerkraut. Then mix the caviar with the dill stems and canola oil and spoon on top. Garnish with a bit of ground caraway and dill sprigs.