Like many of you, I’ve spent the past couple of weeks watching Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in shock and disbelief. This being a food blog, I don’t normally make too many political comments, save for the occasional sarcastic observation. Yet Putin is often represented on these pages: for his ridiculous demonstrations of masculinity, his corrupt empire, his hypocritical constructed image as a non-drinking man despite the web providing an endless supply of photos of him holding champagne and vodka glasses (not to mention the winery he owns); often to talk about the food he eats, and the food that people create to praise or mock him… I myself named a dish after the man, the Vladimir Poutine. So I’ve been pondering how to show my support for Ukraine while sticking to Food Perestroika’s usual tone – food-focused, frequently irreverent, and with at least a sprinkle of bad taste. After careful consideration, I am proud to announce a new dish fit for the circumstances: the Poutine Khuylo!
A motto that started as a soccer chant by Kharkiv and Donetsk supporters before being popularized during Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014, “Putin – khuylo!” roughly translates as “Putin is a dickhead.” What do you serve to a dickhead? A plate of cock testicles, of course! Piggybacking on my previous poutine recipe, you just need to replace the bear meat with the avian genitalia. But considering all the money Putin has siphoned out from the state’s coffers over more than two decades, he can certainly afford a touch of luxury, or even a ton of it. Well past the threshold of vulgarity, as his palace shows. So let’s add some black truffle to satisfy his taste for all things Italian.
How do you cook testicles? Americans, when eating them at all, enjoy them breaded and fried (the famous Rocky Mountain oysters are bull testicles). In Europe, they’re usually stewed – see for example this recipe for a Hungarian rooster testicle stew, or my own lamb testicle chashushuli. Rooster testicles (which can be purchased here) boast a mild offal flavor and a texture similar to that of French boudin sausages. I’m preparing them in a stew with scallions, parsnip, and mustard; this pairs well with the black truffle. Buy some real fresh winter truffle if possible; while the amount I’m using produces a balanced dish, if you own a golden toilet brush and a golden toilet paper holder feel free to use five to ten times as much! Finally, in the interest of time, instead of making your own cheese curds, you can buy some from a cheesemaker or cheese shop (such as this one).
Yields 4 servings
Total preparation: 6 hours
Active preparation: 1 hour 30 minutes
3 kg whole milk
3/4 packet direct-set mesophilic starter
2 g liquid rennet, diluted in 30 g water
8 g salt
- Heat the milk to 30 C / 86 F, then stir in the starter. Cover and keep at 30 C / 86 F for 45 minutes.
- Add the diluted rennet and mix for 1 minute. Let rest for another 45 minutes.
- Cut the curds in 1.25 cm cubes and let set for 15 minutes. Slowly heat to 38 C / 100 F and keep at that temperature for 1 hour, stirring gently every 10 minutes. Let rest for 30 minutes.
- Pour the curds into a sieve and let drain for 5 minutes, shaking occasionally. Do not drain for too long, or the curds will mat. Mix in the salt, then keep at 38 C / 100 F for 1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes to prevent matting. Drain again and reserve.
1.8 kg Idaho potatoes, peeled
canola oil, for deep-frying
- Fill a pot large enough to contain the potatoes with water mixed with 1% salt, and bring to a boil. Cut the potatoes into 1.25 cm thick fries. Add to the pot, return to a simmer, and cook over medium heat until the potatoes are just starting to break when you pick them out (you should start watching for this after about 15 minutes of simmering). Using a skimmer, transfer the fries to a cooling rack, let cool, then refrigerate until cold.
- Fill a deep-fryer with the canola oil, and bring to 120 C / 250 F. Proceeding in batches if necessary, deep-fry the fries until they look dry and slightly colored (start checking after 6 minutes). Don’t overfill; the potatoes tend to release a lot of water, which increases the liquid level in the fryer. Transfer to a cooling rack and discard (or eat) the small broken potato pieces — there will be some, unavoidably. Let cool, then refrigerate until cold.
Rooster testicle stew
10 g winter black truffle peelings
750 g chicken stock
300 g cleaned rooster testicles (rinsed, with any attached skin removed)
40 g olive oil
60 g peeled shallots, small dice
60 g peeled scallion whites, sliced
70 g peeled parsnip, small dice
5 g peeled garlic, sliced
black pepper, ground
20 g Dijon mustard
180 g white wine
- Blend the truffle peelings with about half of the chicken stock in a blender on high speed. Transfer to a saucepan with the rest of the stock, and reduce over medium-high heat to 500 g. Reserve.
- Season the rooster testicles with salt. Heat half of the olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat, and sauté the testicles, stirring regularly, until they look like white beans; don’t worry if some of them burst. Transfer to a bowl and reserve.
- In the same pot still over medium-high heat, sauté the shallots, scallion whites, parsnip, and garlic in the remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, add the mustard, and cook for a couple minutes, stirring constantly. Add the wine and reduce by half. Add the stock, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
- Return the testicles to the pot, and cook for another 15 minutes. Reserve.
rooster testicle stew
75 g heavy cream
50 g (about 3) egg yolks
20 g scallion greens, sliced
340 g cheese curds
6 g peeled winter black truffle
- Reheat the rooster testicle stew over low heat. Mix the heavy cream and the egg yolk, then stir into the stew. Add the scallion greens as well. Stir constantly over low heat until it coats the back of a spoon. Important: it must never boil.
- Bring the deep-fryer to 190 C / 375 F, then deep-fry the fries again until golden brown. Transfer to a bowl lined with paper towels.
- Pile some fries in the center of each plate or bowl, top with cheese curds, and cover with rooster testicle stew. Grate some black truffle on top using a Microplane, and serve immediately.