The Idiot Gardener

WARNING: This site contains information on gardening, brewing, curing meat,

building shit and hunting, all done in a piss-poor manner. It is not suitable for the

feeble-minded, the weak and lame, those of a nervous disposition, vegans and

vegetarians (and those other ones that only eat fish and the occasional bacon

sandwich - I think they're called 'hypocrites'), those who practice any

manner of folk singing or dancing, people named Colin or fans of Barry Gibb.

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.


peeledballs.jpgOnce peeled, I marinated the testicles in red wine, with a splash of good red wine vinegar, garlic, cracked black pepper and onions, for 24 hours.

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!

7 thoughts on “Criadillas braised in red wine

  1. Tom Gowans

    I shall endeavor to encourage Marcia to accept your last piece of advice.

    There is a dish here, which I confess as one of my favourites, which involves grinding the meat of testicles with pumpkin seeds and, well, rolling them back into balls then braising them rather as one would do dumplings in a stew. They are delicious.

  2. Is

    Dear Id,
    I prefer human testicles, alive and kicking, so to speak. But I’m really writing to save you from spoiling your allotment. Just add a teaspoon of blood, fish and bonemeal to each planting hole. If you’re convinced that won’t be enough, get some rockdust as well.B&Q stock it now, and it’s amazing. Finally, give anything that looks hungry a foliar feed with Maxicrop. Lime yp

  3. Somerset

    At last! A blog about charcuterie from the uk. I’ve been dabbling in it for about a year. I’m in the process of building a curing chamber and have found some good uk based temp controllers etc, ill give you the web address if interested.
    Anyway great blog

  4. Laura

    I am so sorry. I have enjoyed your writing and your wonderfully convoluted stories that eventually get around to information relevant to gardening. Really, not being facetious here. They make me laugh out loud. But…with your new blog format and current interest in charcuterie I cannot stomach your home page when it appears on my screen with its veritable mosaic of raw animal parts. The pig’s head and bull testicles are particularly disturbing to me. I was okay with one at a time appearing before my eyes, but the whole array makes me queasy. Not a vegetarian or vegan, just a bit squeamish with raw flesh. Have to look away from fictional hospital TV shows too. So anyway…it’s been fun, but I won’t be seeing you as often anymore. Hey, it’s me not you. Maybe I’ll be back when you are out of the kitchen and back in the plot with the cukes and zukes and all the other veg which don’t make my stomach churn at all. It’s been fun. So long for now. A Formerly Faithful, but Vagal Reader

  5. Nutty Gnome

    Yeurk, No!
    I have eaten many strange and bizzare animals and bits of animals on many different continents, but goolies of any variety is a step too far for me! *gags*

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