Chew on These 5 Facts About Rocky Mountain Oysters

Matt Johnson, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Matt Johnson, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

October 5 (today!) is Rocky Mountain Oyster Day, both a celebration of the unique delicacy (we’ll get to that in a moment) and a wry commentary on the proliferation of national food recognition days: The Denver Post reporter Allyson Reedy essentially made the idea up earlier this year and had a food calendar guru acknowledge it as a regional holiday in Colorado. Since we can’t let this occasion pass without comment, take a look at some quick facts about this acquired taste.

1. IT’S REALLY BULL TESTICLES DAY.

“Rocky Mountain Oyster” is a bit of misdirection, as the delicacy is actually not an oyster at all, but testicles from sheep, bulls, or pigs that can be prepared in a variety of ways. (Breaded and fried might be the most popular.) Why the oysters label? Because testicles are rather slimy when raw. And probably don't sound as tempting when written on a menu.

2. AT LEAST ONE COLORADO RESTAURANT IS DEVOTED TO THEM.

Eating “tendergroin” is less taboo in the west, where a variety of “nut festivals” have sprung up. For year-round enjoyment, Bruce’s Bar in Severance, Colorado has carved out a niche as the premier place to try a plate. Cartoon bulls dot the exterior, some of which are crossing their legs in mock distress. Their slogan? “Come to Bruce’s and have a ball.”

3. THEY TASTE LIKE CHICKEN.

Local public radio affiliate KUNC dispatched reporter Luke Runyon to try the oysters for the first time in 2016. He went to Bruce’s and tried a sampler of bison, lamb, and beef. Declaring them “surprisingly juicy,” he thought the bison tasted liked chicken but that the beef was “full of a unique flavor.”

4. YOU CAN GET THEM AT MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL GAMES.

Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, in Denver, Colorado.
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

In Colorado, at least. Among the concessions at Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, are Rocky Mountain oysters. The balls have been declared the “Dodger Dog” of Colorado.

5. THERE’S AN EATING CONTEST FOR THEM.

Since 1982, Clinton, Montana has been home to the Testy Fest, a ribald party featuring wet clothes contests (for both men and women) and, more notably, a testicle eating contest. The defending champion is Matt Powers, the festival’s founder, who is said to have lost only a handful of times in over a decade of competition. In 2015, Vice reported he polished off over two pounds of testes in under four minutes.

Can't Find Yeast? Grow Your Own at Home With a Sourdough Starter

Dutodom, iStock via Getty Images
Dutodom, iStock via Getty Images

Baking bread can relieve stress and it requires long stretches of time at home that many of us now have. But shoppers have been panic-buying some surprising items since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to pantry staples like rice and beans, yeast packets are suddenly hard to find in grocery stores. If you got the idea to make homemade bread at the same time as everyone on your Instagram feed, don't let the yeast shortage stop you. As long as you have flour, water, and time, you can grow your own yeast at home.

While many bread recipes call for either instant yeast or dry active yeast, sourdough bread can be made with ingredients you hopefully already have on hand. The key to sourdough's unique, tangy taste lies in its "wild" yeast. Yeast is a single-celled type of fungus that's abundant in nature—it's so abundant, it's floating around your home right now.

To cultivate wild yeast, you need to make a sourdough starter. This can be done by combining one cup of flour (like whole grain, all-purpose, or a mixture of the two) with a half cup of cool water in a bowl made of nonreactive material (such as glass, stainless steel, or food-grade plastic). Cover it with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let it sit in a fairly warm place (70°F to 75°F) for 24 hours.

Your starter must be fed with one cup of flour and a half cup of water every day for five days before it can be used in baking. Sourdough starter is a living thing, so you should notice is start to bubble and grow in size over time (it also makes a great low-maintenance pet if you're looking for company in quarantine). On the fifth day, you can use your starter to make dough for sourdough bread. Here's a recipe from King Arthur Flour that only calls for starter, flour, salt, and water.

If you just want to get the urge to bake out of your system, you can toss your starter once you're done with it. If you plan on making sourdough again, you can use the same starter indefinitely. Starters have been known to live in people's kitchens for decades. But to avoid using up all your flour, you can store yours in the fridge after the first five days and reduce feedings to once a week.

How to Make Queen Elizabeth’s Beloved Chocolate Biscuit Cake at Home

Queen Elizabeth II at an afternoon tea event in 1999.
Queen Elizabeth II at an afternoon tea event in 1999.
Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

Between living in regal palaces and owning all the dolphins in the UK, Queen Elizabeth II is not like the rest of us in most ways. But there is one thing that many of us do have in common with her: a weakness for chocolate cake. Back in 2017, former royal chef Darren McGrady shared that the queen is especially partial to a certain chocolate biscuit cake that he served each day for afternoon tea.

"The chocolate biscuit cake is the only cake that goes back again and again and again, every day until it's all gone," McGrady told RecipesPlus. "She'll take a small slice every day until eventually there is only one tiny piece, but you have to send that up; she wants to finish the whole of that cake."

If the queen relocated from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle before she made it to the last slice, McGrady brought the leftover cake with him by train. Wishing you could sample the royal dessert yourself? If you’re willing to spend a little time in the kitchen, you can: The full recipe is available on McGrady’s website.

For novice bakers picturing something decadent and complicated, don’t worry—the recipe is refreshingly simple, calling only for sugar, butter, dark chocolate, one egg, and rich tea biscuits or other sweet, hard cookies. Essentially, all you have to do is crumble the biscuits into small chunks, melt the dark chocolate, combine all the ingredients in a certain order, and let the cake chill in a pan in the refrigerator for a few hours. Then, you use additional melted dark chocolate as frosting.

Step-by-step instructions and ingredient amounts can be found here. And if you’re a little wary about using a raw egg in a no-bake cake, here’s a similar recipe that calls for whipping cream instead.

[h/t The Royal Chef]

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