Balls-out Cuisine
May 30, 2010 8:55 AM   Subscribe

A newspaper story about cooking testicles, featuring Chris Onstad, writer of Achewood. Also featuring an excerpt from his new Achewood cookbook, in which everyone's favorite Appalachian serial killer teaches us how to easily cook fried chicken. (Perfect fried chicken, previously on metafilter)
posted by Greg Nog (41 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Sys Rq at 9:02 AM on May 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

The writing is so, so good. Especially fictional psychopath and probable serial killer Peter H. Cropes' heavy but taut insanity regarding fried chicken:
Chicken, as it is a Flesh, naturally has a slime to it; slime does not fry well, so it must be thoroughly dabbed away.

Once dry, the tacky surface of the flesh will enable the seasoning to adhere well.

I use honest American corn oil, but you can mess around some, here, so long as the oil is safe to get to 375F. Some men fry in Canola, Safflower, even olive oil. Some men fry in clearseed oil, and some in the tallow of a Mike boar's kidney netting, claiming unique and superior qualities, but really, if you have Lawry's Seasoned Salt, you can just smile and wish them fine days.
posted by krilli at 9:06 AM on May 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've had "Rocky Mountain Oysters" and--unless the ones I had were inexpertly prepared--I didn't get why one would go out of their way to eat them, beyond the HURF DURF TESTICLE EATER aspect. Bland with a disturbing texture, somewhere between a solid and a mush.
posted by availablelight at 9:07 AM on May 30, 2010

(Full disclosure: I made this chicken recipe shortly after reading the article, and the chicken did come out extremely well, although the breading was a bit lighter than I generally prefer, as I was raised in the egg-batter-and-breadcrumbs style of chicken-frying. Still, it's a light, crisp fried chicken that requires little forethought beyond buying a pack of extremely-cheap chicken thighs on a whim at the grocery.)
posted by Greg Nog at 9:11 AM on May 30, 2010

Yeah, as near as I can tell the rocky mountain oysters are eaten only for the purpose of novelty. I'd bet money I could make an identical, if not more flavorful, preparation with chicken gizzards. Same texture, about.

Maybe it's the writing, but I'm gonna try that fried chicken.
posted by cmoj at 9:13 AM on May 30, 2010

Pete is being especially Nice in the current, hilariously terrifying story arc.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:15 AM on May 30, 2010

The chicken pieces should be approximately the color of evening program actor George Lopez. Look at several photos of George Lopez and take an average, if you are not familiar with his work (several computer programs are available which can do this).

Flash bulbs and vanity software often adjust celebrity photographs in unnatural directions. I assure you that George Lopez is the color of perfect fried chicken. (I have taken pains to observe him in person; did you know that he has a tattoo of a sun on his lower back?)
...OK, I'm sold.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:16 AM on May 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is about how my mom makes her chicken, altho (heresy!) she doesn't use the seasoned salt.

It's still the best chicken in the world.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:21 AM on May 30, 2010

He heats a touch of oil in a well-seasoned wok and tosses in a handful of peppers. Smoke hits him full in the face and he begins coughing, managing only to choke out the word "capsaicin."

The perfect alt-text for this article.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:23 AM on May 30, 2010

While the intention was to helpfully describe the color of fried chicken to the audience, Peter H. Cropes accidentally divulges his interest in eating George Lopez - even going so far as to appraise and make note of his body and flesh. And notice how bizarrely distant the fictional mr. Cropes is to his audience, being overly disclosing and intimate at the same time. Now remember that he is a fictional character. Most of the other characters in Achewood have their own blogs too, in completely individuated voices.

Amazingly crafted literature. Phenomenally talented writer.
posted by krilli at 9:27 AM on May 30, 2010 [6 favorites]

Somebody make this fried chicken at a meetup and serve it to Stan Chin without telling him where the recipe is from...
posted by Ian A.T. at 9:35 AM on May 30, 2010

The thought of cooking testicles is making my wood ache.
posted by Skygazer at 9:38 AM on May 30, 2010

Chris Onstad is a beautiful, beautiful writer. His blog was consistently funny for many years until he stopped updating it. I never thought I would be interested in, say, someone writing about golf, but he has a sort of Tom Wolfe make-everything-interesting ability based on the strength of his writing alone.
His sole club, his five-iron, is one of those brand new high-tech numbers with perimeter weighting, carbon-fiber honeycomb shaft, and peanut allergies, so his shots are given and precise, despite the fact that his swing resembles a man beheading a gopher with an adze.
posted by griphus at 10:17 AM on May 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

Also: I've eaten sheep testicles at a Russian restaurant. They were baked, I believe, and served with a sweet, thick jam sauce. They tasted very unlike anything else I had ever eaten - the texture was dense and spongy in a way no muscle or other section of meat is - but there was nothing particularly gross or even special about them. I'd have them again if I were at a (decent) restaurant where they were prepared in some special way but, generally? Eh.
posted by griphus at 10:20 AM on May 30, 2010

Since krilli favorited my comment above I want to make clear that in my opinion the linked strip is an example of phenomenally terrible writing.
posted by kenko at 10:28 AM on May 30, 2010

posted by gman at 10:37 AM on May 30, 2010

Since krilli favorited my comment above I want to make clear that in my opinion the linked strip is an example of phenomenally terrible writing.

But it's not. He gives you a real feel for the characters, who, in a pretty terrific twist, respond to a guy crapping on their lawn by offering him toilet paper so as to avoid him going into an acid rage. This is what good writing does.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:40 AM on May 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, and for those of you who love his writing (as I do), I strongly suggest you pick up Roast Beef's zines. Articles written by all the characters on all kinds of subjects. I've re-read all of them at least three or four times.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:44 AM on May 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Haven't tried it with testicles, but that taco recipe using thin-sliced strips of sirloin as the meat is killer! And for whatever reason, I'd never realized how easy it is to make my own tortillas; I may never use store-bought tortillas again.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:51 AM on May 30, 2010

Alternately, laptops can serve as scrotum cooking devices that allow you to also surf the internet or play games at the same time.
posted by yeloson at 10:56 AM on May 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

But it's not. He gives you a real feel for the characters

Whatever feel for the characters you get derives entirely from their funny names and lazy "dialect". Same with Philippe's French father (modulo funny names). It traffics in cliche in a way that Nice Pete's voice somehow avoids.
posted by kenko at 11:21 AM on May 30, 2010

I'm there with you on the zines, Greg Nog. The in-character introductions to the first cookbook are also incredibly funny to me.
posted by Jorus at 11:32 AM on May 30, 2010

More Achewood + food goodness:
"This isn't carrot juice, it's king piss!"
"It muft sizzle."
posted by chaff at 12:33 PM on May 30, 2010

I'd never realized how easy it is to make my own tortillas; I may never use store-bought tortillas again.

Home-made tortillas really are amazing. It's just no comparison. And a bag of corn flour is ridiculously cheap for the number of tortillas it makes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:09 PM on May 30, 2010

MetaFilter: Bland with a disturbing texture, somewhere between a solid and a mush.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:38 PM on May 30, 2010

Metafilter: A acid doodie boy done crapped the lawn!
posted by longsleeves at 2:35 PM on May 30, 2010

"I come from really standard American tastes... When I met Liz 12 years ago, I wasn't too big into tomatoes or mushrooms. I had a really white-bread palate."

That white-bread palate is evident in his first Achewood cookbook..."It isn't that ambitious of a book," Onstad explains. "It's like, 'how to make a T-bone steak.'"

He must have been poking fun at his old tastes when he slipped a page of gag recipes, ostensibly from a 1923 cookbook written for the wives of would-be bloodsport competitors, in the back of his Great Outdoor Fight collection. An example:


No man wants to pick around a bunch of dainty leaf greens. Give him what he craves—a salad that isn't!


1 extremely large ripe tomato, hollowed out, "lid" reserved, stem intact
2 cups finely minced picnic ham
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup minced celery rib
2 minced anchovies

Finely mix ingredients 2-5. Scoop into the hollowed tomato and tightly replace the lid, carefully piping more mayonnaise around to disguise the seam of the cut. Place this on the plate alongside his nightly beef—how angry he will be! But be patient, for in time he will discover the rich, creamy treasure within.
posted by Iridic at 5:40 PM on May 30, 2010 [3 favorites]

Brilliant: "I cannot stop putting the testicles in my mouth, and for that I feel the shame of everyone's favorite prom date."
posted by unmake at 8:00 PM on May 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am making this (the chicken) RIGHT NOW.
posted by The Whelk at 6:05 PM on May 31, 2010

The Whelk, how'd it turn out? I made some last night - my first fried chicken, in fact. The thighs were good but I think I flipped it too early. The edges had the delicious hard crustiness described but the center of the skin did not.

I don't have a big enough cast iron pot but my heavy dutch oven kept the heat very well (though I needed more oil). Tangentially, this made me wonder about electric ranges like mine. Serious home cooks swear by cast iron in part because it retains heat when you lay food onto it. So do electric ranges, and yet they are reviled. I am starting to wonder about that bias.
posted by Jorus at 5:35 AM on June 1, 2010

er, flipped them.
posted by Jorus at 5:36 AM on June 1, 2010

I used a heavy dutch oven (and I seasoned the flour - I like over-seasoned chicken) and it came out great, not too thick, not to thin - I was using old, old oil that I was about to throw out so there was all these other flavors. It was pretty much perfect, light fried chicken.

I'm guessing you didn't get it hot enough or leave it in long enough, electric ranges aren't *bad*, they're just really tricky to time and work with . I left mine in a little longer then it suggested cause a bit over done is better than a bit underdone.

Also, you may think getting them cool on a rack or otherwise not in their own grease wouldn't matter - you would be wrong.
posted by The Whelk at 5:50 AM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Maybe my experience is skewed from having always lived in rental units, but I've been extremely unimpressed with gas stoves - the ones I've used never seem to get hot enough. The electric range in my current apartment, however, gets almost TOO hot...which is fine, once I learned how to set the dial to lower temps. The only advantage I can see to gas is instant-on and -off heat, which would probably be handier in a restaurant kitchen environment where speed is of the essence. In my case I let a pot or pan warm up before actually starting to cook, and if I want to immediately stop the heat I just take it off the burner and set on an empty burner or a trivet.

Oh...and nthing the wonderfulness of cast iron.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:44 AM on June 1, 2010

Yep, I cooled them on a rack and that felt right.

You're spot on with oil not being hot enough - I admit I was pretty nervous about flares or bumps (sudden strong boils) and put them in at 330°F. But I did not feel endangered by the chicken and will go full out 360°C next time in hopes of more crust.

My inexperience frying showed in another way in that I was worried about overcooking them. Now that I think about it, they're not going to dry out right after the "done" point the way a pork cutlet will.

All that said, they were good and I look forward to improving on them.
posted by Jorus at 6:45 AM on June 1, 2010

Personally, I dig gas stoves because you can see exactly how much flame is happening at a glance, so after a brief period of getting familiar with the stove, I know roughly how hot it is just by looking under the pot at the burner, and adjust that instantly. I also happen to have a gas stove with three different burner-sizes, so if I need to crank up the heat in a hurry, I can just use the biggest burner on the highest level. When I made the chicken, I also used my dutch oven, which is iron with an enamel coating. It worked great!
posted by Greg Nog at 10:29 AM on June 1, 2010

Greg Nog: ... I know roughly how hot it is just by looking under the pot at the burner

I know hot hot my stove is by just looking at the control knob settings. :) Though of course they don't adjust instantly.

I've only seen gas stoves with two burner sizes, never three - maybe those are too upscale for the kind of places I usually rent....
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:26 PM on June 1, 2010

It's great! It's got two medium sized burners in the back, one big one in the front right, and one small one in the front left! I usually use the big one on high to quickly heat oil, and the small one on low to keep a steady warm temperature for yogurt-making!
posted by Greg Nog at 12:51 PM on June 1, 2010

I never realized parboil could be such a terrible terrible word.
posted by Skygazer at 2:15 PM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, you know, I was just thinking about the drying-rack portion of this recipe, and it occurs to me that some of you may benefit from the device I use for post-fry drying. It's this microwave-bacon cooker, which I never actually use for cooking bacon, oddly. But it's resistant to high heat, and has a series of raised thin plastic tines with a shallow reservoir underneath, so it's fantastic for laying greasy just-fried foods on; the excess grease drips down to the reservoir below, the food on top gets plenty of air circulation all around it. I think I got mine from a thrift store at some point, but I've had it for years. That, a pair of cheap metal tongs, and an old pot are all I ever use for frying things. And I fry a hell of a lot!
posted by Greg Nog at 10:33 AM on June 26, 2010

Listen to Mr. Nog.
posted by The Whelk at 10:38 AM on June 26, 2010

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