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?

20 comments on “Homemade: Grilled Bison Balls

  1. skippymom says:

    Rattlesnake and alligator when I was 8 months pregnant. It wasn’t a craving just my husband had treated me to a nice dinner at a fancy DC restaurant and that was on the appetizer menu.

    But I grew up eating squirrel and other critters my grandfather trapped. Turtle soup was an all time favorite.

    But? No bison boys for me. That is just too much. 🙂 Bravo for you!

    [Bison burgers are good tho’]

  2. Jessica Leigh says:

    The texture of the scallop is what makes my stomach turn, so I’m not sure I could eat this. I do wish we had a local place around here that sold fresh bison meat. I’ve eaten a bison burger and I loved it!

  3. Fran says:

    That actually looks pretty good. I don’t usually don’t… never mind, I won’t go there… but I would definitely try these. Things is, I would probably be kicked out of the apartment :P. Maybe I can get away with it if I cook it somewhere else or bbq it.

    • Fran says:

      Oh, and sorry for re-posting, but in junior high I went to eat lunch at my friend’s house and I got a nice half skull of lamb with parsley and garlic brains nicely sitting in it. I actually loved it, and loved the tongue and the remaining skull meat… I had seconds!

  4. Bunny says:

    Alligator Jerky is strangest meat I’ve eaten. The piece you are holding looks like chicken. I would try them grilled.

  5. Tracy says:

    A burger at a restaurant that looks iffy is the most adventurous as I’ve ever been or will be. I give you credit for being adventurous but I got queazy reading about it, no way I would eat it.

  6. chuck in chicago says:

    Adam, I must salute your intrepid sense of adventure and, from this moment on, only speak your name with hushed tones of reverence after having read the account of your latest culinary experience. (I suppose that this is a logical progression after the “Floink.”) My most adventurous cut of meat was a taste of the brains of a grilled young goat (“cabrito”) in Guadalajara. Not an experience I’d want to repeat.

  7. sophia says:

    Poor, poor bison. Its manhood, violated. Oh well. At least it was put to good use, unlike many other males I know.

    Okay, balls. Wow, Adam. I’d love to try it, though I wonder if I have the balls to try it. OKay, that was a bad pun.

    Anyway. Does live octopus count? Its tentacles literally still squirmed in my throat. yuck. It’s not really meat, though. Hm. I’ve had fried frog legs before, but that’s old news.

    • Adam says:

      Live octopus? Ok, that beats mine hands down. Unless it’s a really, really good cut of tuna or beef tartar, I can’t stomach many things raw, much less ALIVE. It’s a texture thing, but I actually dislike very fresh seafood for still having that pungent seaweedy taste. BTW, totally agree with you on the Poutine thing: What a good waste of fries.

      • Fran says:

        When I was in Korea I really wanted to try that but just couldn’t find it, that, and the friend I was with wouldn’t even let me eat roasted grubs. One day though I shall try it. The only thing that might be annoying is the tentacles sticking to the inside of my mouth. Eh, maybe I would just quickly kill it. Though if it had the chance it would probably eat me alive, it might be a little mean to subject it to a slow chewing from my dull teeth.

  8. Ryan says:

    I had fried alligator a couple years ago. I don’t think it should count as unusual though because deep fry just about anything and it’s hard to tell what you’re eating anyway.

  9. […] it is very unusual to find someone (especially a man) that has the balls to eat, you guessed it, bison testicles. These actually look tender and nicely prepared! Good job, […]

  10. Deric says:

    Hákarl, aka fermented Greenland shark, in Iceland. It was — do I need to say it? — totally, utterly and completely gross. I made the mistake of over-chewing on my first attempt and yakked it up. The second time I was ready: I gave it one or two bites, swallowed and chased it with a shot of their national liquor, Brennivín (now *that* is good).

    Not gross, but interesting and also from Iceland: Puffin. On pizza. In a lighthouse. On the westernmost piece of rock in Europe. I could have went for more of that. 🙂

    • Deric says:

      Oh, God, I forgot to answer your second question: I don’t know if I could eat BBs. That fourth photo’s turning me off … still, I suppose … a nibble? Maybe? Kudos to you, my friend!

  11. Aimee says:

    No way, dude. I will eat octupus (cooked), and most fish, but no way to the balls. There is a very unladylike comment I could make, but I won’t. If it’s Bison Balls on the menu…pass the peanut butter.

  12. Kyaa says:

    The flavor/texture combination sounds wonderfull, but I’d still be eating bison man-bits. I’d probably eat them if it was sliced up, deep fried, and i was lied to as to what it was.

  13. Shannon says:

    The strangest food I’ve eaten is actually pretty normal. I’ve had venison steak. Adam, I am only surprised that someone your age would eat such a thing. My grandaddy used to eat pig testicles along with just about every other part of a hog as well as rabbit, possum, raccoon, deer, and turtle. The only way I might possibly be able to choke down a bite of ball is if only a very small amount could be seen so my mind would not have to focus on what I was actually eating. Oh yeah, I have an uncle who eats eel.

  14. Andrew Huang says:

    Did you use indirect or direct heat? Serious Eats mentions leaving room for the former but never actually mention which heat type is used.

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