Criadillas braised in red wine
In Spain, they call them criadillas. In the States they are often referred to as Rocky Mountain Oysters. Where I was brought up, they were called bull’s bollocks. It doesn’t really matter what you call them; they’re bloody delicious!
When it comes to cooking up a bull’s tackle, the preferred method of testicle aficionados is to bread them and deep fry. Now, to my way of thinking, the idea of breading and frying offal of any type is akin to meeting an extremely beautiful woman and asking her to wear a bag on her head. Offal should be soft and tender, allowed to cook slowly, of shown the merest hint of heat before being eaten bloody. I would have had them very rare, had it not been for the fact that they’d been stuck in a suitcase without refridgeration for 24 hours!
Criadillas/oysters/bollocks aren’t generally available in the UK, so when I saw them in a market in Bilbao, I knew they were coming home with me. Once back in my kitchen, the first job was to peel off the membrane. Everything I read said this was difficult, but it turned out to be quite simple.
Ladies will appreciate the following information; men might not. If you pinch hold off the testicle membrane, it is simple to slide in a sharp knife, thus slitting the skin without cutting the flesh. Then ensure that the slit extends across the full width of the testicle, and goes around the curved ends. If it does not, the membrane with tear the flesh. Once done, simply take a grip of one side of the membrane and slide the knife under the testicle. The membrane is tough, so you can angle the blade downwards as you push. Hold the skin and slide the knife under the meat. The side of the blade will then push the testicle meat upwards and away from the membrane.
Afterwards I took them out, keeping the marinade, and sliced them thickly (four slices per bollock) and gently sauted them in butter for around a minutes each side, before adding the reserved marinade, a tablespoon of brown sugar, an anchovy and a tablespoon of tomato puree. The bollocks then braised gently on a low heat for around 30 minutes. They were served up with some kale and simple boiled swede. Any root vegetable that isn’t too strong will work well.
The result was very good. The criadillas had a taste akin to mild kidneys, and retained a good level of texture. If anything, they might have benefited from a tiny touch of chilli too.
Criadillas, calf fries, rocky mountain oysters, call them what you will, but definitely try to get some bollocks into your mouth soon!