Homemade: Grilled Bison Balls
The title says it all. Last week, I grilled Bison Balls.
In what was the second edition of my annual end-of-summer Bison bash (longtime readers may recall my liver ‘tacos’ last year), I fired up the ‘ol Weber last Tuesday evening, enjoying the searing offal meat while listening to a riveting symphony of Ted Nugent’s Great White Buffalo. Somewhere in between the sight of a blistering ball on the grill and a totally kick-arse guitar rift I contemplated tearing off my shirt and fetching a bow and arrow, but thankfully cooler heads (and a desire to keep my sanity) prevailed. Plus, I’d probably just end up killing a neighbor’s cat or something.
You can call me crazy and say that I’m a misguided foodie. You can revolt in disgust and write your local PETA chapter. You can even go all “LOLZ” on me, chalking this latest culinary adventure up to a desperate need for attention (and for that, I wouldn’t totally fault you). But when push comes to shove I’m glad I did it. Not just because I can brag for the rest of my life about having eaten a testis (and the testicles of a Bison, to boot), but because I found the “throw away” organ to be some of the most delicious, succulent meat I have ever tasted.
The Bison balls were procured from Gunpowder Bison and Trading Co., a favorite institution of mine and a place I often try to support. Located in Monkton, Maryland, the folks at Gunpowder have literally changed the restaurant scene in Maryland. Not only do they source most of the Bison meat for burgers and steaks in Maryland restaurants, but their reputation for proving natural, grass-fed Bison to farmers markets has reached cult-like status. As anyone who has ever grilled a Bison burger made from Gunpowder meat will tell you, it’s a reputation that is well deserved.
When it comes to eating balls, most people go the Rocky Mountain Oyster route. Obviously this crossed my mind while mulling what direction to take with these bad boys, but while searching for recipes I ran across this post on Serious Eats. It was about lamb testicles, but I found the description rather appealing. So, armed with the knowledge that all I needed to do was to stick a pair on the grates and let the fire do it’s work, I did exactly that. A little salt and pepper to taste, and I had entered a brave new world of cooking.
I followed Chichi Wang’s Serious Eats recipe to a T, and sure enough the vile-looking organ blistered on the grill, with the encased membrane developing an almost grilled sausage like char. Once removed, I let the thing cool before slicing through the center. This is what I saw:
So what does it taste like? C’mon, don’t tell me after all of that that you aren’t the least bit curious. While I freely admit that Bison testicles smell extremely gamy and unpleasant in both their raw and cooked forms, I must admit that the end product is quite palatable. Each testis yields maybe about 2 ounces of cooked meat or so, and it has a texture very reminiscent of a perfectly cooked scallop. It’s is not like liver or other internal muscles in that it can either become tough or exceptionally chewy depending on how you cook it (they are, after all, very forgiving on the grill). The meat itself is tender and succulent, and does not have a gamy taste, but rather a clean, slightly sweet flavor that has a very, very subtle hint of grass. The flavor is not entirely different from a very lean grass-fed pork tenderloin, although not nearly as pronounced in the depth of flavor.
Should you ever find yourself in an adventurous mood, I highly recommendtrying grilled Bison testicles. But even if you’re not one to eat genitalia (and frankly, it’s quite ok to be adverse to such a thing) than I still suggest eating Bison. You nodoubt have heard plenty of times of its exceptional flavor and health benefits, which make it a fantastic substitute for beef. Also, those in the mid-aAtlantic should really check out Gunpowder Bison and Trading. Aside from liver and balls, I get all my Bison hamburger patties and sausage there, and have never had a complaint about the meat or service.
So I want to hear from you GrubGraders. What is the “strangest” cut of meat you’ve ever eaten, and would you eat Bison (or any other animals’) testicles?