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Land ‘oysters’ are a deep-fried Denver delicacy

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Bull testicles — more tastefully known as Rocky Mountain oysters — are served deep-fried at the Buckhorn Exchange in Denver. At right, an “oyster” in raw form.

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Rocky Mountain oysters are served with french fries at Coors Field in Denver.

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Chef Edgar Garcia holds a Rocky Mountain oyster before it is sliced and prepared at the Buckhorn Exchange restaurant in Denver.

DENVER >> If you are going to eat Rocky Mountain oysters, it’s probably best not to watch them being prepared, especially if you are a guy.

There’s something about watching a sharp knife slice through bull testicles that causes an involuntary shiver through to your knees.

For those unfamiliar with the cowboy delicacy, let’s just say that when young bulls are rounded up and castrated, a lot of organ meat is removed and it isn’t thrown away.

Denver’s oldest restaurant, the Buckhorn Exchange, has been serving Rocky Mountain oysters since it opened in 1893.

A half-order costs $8 and a full order is $12.50. A full order consists of roughly a half to three-quarters of the oval-shaped organ, depending on its size. The meat is sliced, dredged in flour and deep-fried.

“Most of our customers are nuts about them,” Fred Slick, one of the restaurant managers, deadpanned. “It’s the original sack lunch.”

The land oysters are the most popular appetizer on the extensive menu, which also includes fried alligator tail, rattlesnake and buffalo sausage. About 400 pounds are sold every week, Slick said.

Rocky Mountain oysters also are served at Coors Field during Colorado Rockies games, which gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “Take me out to the ballgame.”

“The Rocky Mountain oyster is kind of a Denver signature item and we wanted a signature item for the stadium,” said Billy Ennis, Aramark division manager of concessions at Coors Field. “The Rocky Mountain oyster is the Dodger Dog of Coors Field.”

The dish with french fries costs $7.50 at the Blake Street Grill concession, close to Section 144 near left field.

As for how they taste, almost anything deep-fried is good. A lot of the flavor comes from the batter.

The version at Coors Field tastes a bit like fried zucchini, probably because of the batter. The flavor is beefy and, even though it’s an organ, there’s no mineral aftertaste.

At the Buckhorn Exchange, the oysters taste a little like fried calamari, with a slight aftertaste of liver. It can be a little chewy, but it’s not tough.

The cocktail sauce served alongside at both the Buckhorn Exchange and Coors Field probably adds to a slight seafood taste. The Buckhorn Exchange also offers a creamy horseradish sauce.

If you can cowboy up and get over the idea of what you’re eating, Rocky Mountain oysters are a tasty appetizer or ballpark snack.

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