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OKG Newsletter

Food and Drink Features

Balls out

Cattlemen’s Steakhouse has served a surprising Oklahoma staple for almost 100 years.

Emily Anderson November 6th, 2013

Charles Barkley wouldn’t try them, but President George H.W. Bush would: lamb fries. Not your average American french fry.

In fact, they couldn’t be further from the traditional french fry, yet Oklahoma loves them. Featured at Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, 1309 S. Agnew Ave. in historic Stockyards City, these jumbo egg-sized treats are a nationally recognized customer favorite.

Guy Fieri from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and Adam Richman with Man v. Food have both tried them. They have been featured on the Food Network, the Travel Channel and Fox. Why are these unique fries so beloved by Cattlemen’s patrons?

The restaurant is renowned for its steaks winning countless awards, but lamb fries are a bit of a departure. That’s because lamb fries are lamb testicles.

Yes, testicles. However, David Egan, director of operations, said the restaurant fields more than 850 orders a week.

“It’s a rite of passage, something you have to do,” Egan said. “Customers introduce lamb fries to a lot of out-of-towners.”

Owner Dick Stubbs said it’s always interesting to see people order them without telling their guests what they are eating.

Egan said that Cattlemen’s never participates in tricking customers, but they do like to watch when another diner convinces a lamb-fry virgin that it’s catfish, only to be told the truth afterward. The funniest reaction Stubbs saw was when Fieri ate one without knowing what it was.

Understandably, “testicle” would not be a person’s first thought.

The big debate is calf versus lamb fries.

For Egan, it comes down to consistency.

“Calf fries vary hugely in terms of strength of flavor and tenderness in regards to the age and size of the animal,” he said. “Lamb is much more consistent in size and flavor — tastes just like chicken.”

Today, Cattlemen’s gets its lamb testicles from Iceland. However, it started selling lamb fries in the 1920s, when Armour Packing Co. in the Stockyards didn’t have a market for its lamb testicles.

Egan said companies have difficulty getting rid of that type of product. Armour would include them as freebies in boxes of meat it sold to customers. When the kitchen manager — Stubbs said no one knows exactly who it was — started putting one or two on meals, they caught on; eventually, the kitchen manager served them on every steak dinner.

Egan said they would fry them like a garnish.

“It was free to them, so why not give everyone a little treat?” he said.

Lamb fries are served during breakfast, lunch and dinner. Egan said he doesn’t see a lot of Cheerios, milk and lamb fries at breakfast, but sometimes people on alternative schedules have them. They are served regularly with lemon halves and a cocktail sauce of tomato and horseradish.

“In Oklahoma, you can bread and deep-fry anything and a certain percentage of people will like it,” said Egan, who loves lamb fries. “[They] are kind of the ultimate testimony. Not to underestimate the good nutrition because lamb fries are very easy to eat. It looks just like a piece of chicken or catfish. It’s not a weird thing [where] you have to hold your nose. It’s breaded and fried, and it’s good and good for you.”

For $9.50 as an appetizer and $14.95 for dinner, try lamb fries.

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