“I’ve worked with testicles before,” Lee Kuebler says. “Not goat . . . they were actually kind of hard to find.” Challenged by Zoe Schor of Ada St. to create a dish using goat testicles, Kuebler, the chef at Libertyville’s Milwalky Trace, searched unsuccessfully at Mexican grocery stores and halal butchers for the ingredient. Finally he procured a pair through Slagel Family Farm, which saved him the testicles after slaughtering a goat.
Kuebler had to drive into the city to pick them up—”which is always an interesting deal, to buy goat parts off the back of a truck for cash,” he says. “But you know, it’s a day in the life.”
The testicles of bulls, sheep, goats, and other animals raised for meat have long been considered an aphrodisiac, but in the early 20th century a quack doctor took these supposed properties a step further. Armed with a medical license purchased from a diploma mill, John R. Brinkley began implanting goat gonads into men’s scrotums to cure impotence. Brinkley continued this practice for more than a decade, becoming rich in the process, before his medical license was finally revoked in 1930.
In terms of cuisine, Kuebler says, goat testicles are a lot like sweetbreads: “they’re similar in color, texture, flavor . . . they’re really mild.” He took inspiration from the way he ate bull testicles when he visited his grandpa’s farm in western Nebraska as a child: breaded and panfried and placed between slices of white bread with mayonnaise. Kuebler considered making a similar sandwich with the goat gonads, but instead decided to bread and deep-fry them, serving them with preserved-lemon aioli and fried lemon, onion, and jalapeño.
First, though, he had to peel the skin off the testicles. “That leaves you with a nice soft, squishy organ,” he says. Kuebler sliced up the testicles and tossed them in a flour dredge seasoned with ground coriander, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Thinly sliced red onions, lemons, and jalapeño also went in the dredge, then into the fryer.
Tasting a deep-fried medallion of goat testicle, Kuebler notes that most of the flavor came from the spices in the dredge. “The texture’s really cool,” he says. “I’m guessing if most people closed their eyes and didn’t know what it was, you could probably call it a scallop and they wouldn’t even know.”
Kuebler served the testicles with a Ballast Point pale ale. “This was just an excuse for me to be able to drink a beer right now,” he says. “It’s been a long day.”
Kuebler has challenged Michael Lachowicz of Restaurant Michael in Winnetka to create a dish with veal brains. Kuebler says that the ingredient isn’t something the general public is familiar with, but because Lachowicz’s specialty is classic French cuisine, it should be a breeze.
Fried goat testicles with jalapeño, lemon, and onion
2 goat testicles, peeled and cut into quarter-inch medallions
1/2 lemon, sliced into paper-thin wheels
1 jalapeño, sliced into paper-thin wheels
1 red onion, sliced into paper-thin circles
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
2 t smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Small handful cilantro leaves
1 preserved lemon
1/4 cup mayonnaise or homemade aioli
Bring deep fryer or large pot half full of neutral-tasting oil to 350 degrees.
Mix flour, spices and salt and pepper to taste.
Remove pulp from preserved lemon. Mince rind and mix into the aioli.
Toss testicles, lemon, jalapeño, and onion in flour mixture, shake off excess flour and deep-fry until golden brown and crispy, about two minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Gently toss while seasoning with salt and pepper. Add cilantro leaves and gently toss again. Transfer to serving vessel, sprinkle with smoked paprika, and serve with preserved lemon aioli on the side for dipping.