Balls! We Dare You to Try Unfried Rocky Mountain Oysters

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We were back at the Buckhorn Exchange, sitting under that two-headed calf ("really two-faced," said one of my dining companions), trying to decide between the alligator and rattlesnake appetizers (we went with alligator -- which really does taste like chicken once it's battered and fried) and debating whether it's possible to prepare Rocky Mountain oysters any way other than fried -- a question that looked far from rhetorical two months ago, when the Denver 2008 Host Committee released its "lean 'n green" guidelines for politically proper meals, and included an admonition against any fried foods.

And that would include Rocky Mountain oysters, essentially the state food of Colorado, judging from the Colorado Tourism Office website (but we know it's really green chile).

While we munched our way through an order of Rocky Mountain oysters -- fried to a crisp outside, chewy inside (not lile chicken) and quite tasty dipped in horseradish sauce -- we hailed Bill Dutton, affable owner of the Buckhorn, and asked whether there's a way to cook bull's balls without frying them. "Well, when you peel them, it's pretty much of a mess," he said (ewww!). But if you froze the testicles, then sliced them, you could braise the meat, he suggested.

The Buckhorn, which boasts the city's oldest liquor license (issued right after Prohibition), a great upstairs bar and a handy location right opposite a light-rail stop at 1000 Osage Street, will be the site of several private parties during the Democratic National Convention. Somehow, though, we doubt that unfried Rocky Mountain oysters will be on the menu.-- Patricia Calhoun

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