Some food, some drink.
A Night for Man Food: Bull Fries at the Munjor Knights of Columbus Stag.
If you're gonna eat offal, you might as well go for the gusto: Call 'em nuts, bull-fries, prairie/Rocky Mountain oysters, or any other synonym you wanna use to avoid saying the word “testicle”. I had an opportunity recently to attend a charity fund-raising where this delicacy was the main course. The event was hosted by the Munjor, Kansas chapter of the Knights of Columbus, and they were gracious enough to let me get a behind-the-scenes peek at what it takes to put on a proper stag.
So, I got a call from my Father-in-Law the other day -
“Hey, you like nuts?”
“Are you asking me if I'm nuts?”
“No, do you want to eat some nuts? Munjor's having their stag, and they're the real deal.”
In and around the very Catholic communities here in Northwest Kansas, it's become tradition for the various parish chapters of the men's organization known as the Knights of Columbus to host dinner fund-raisers where the only requirement to buy a ticket is that you possess a Y chromosome. Sometimes they're called stags; but whatever you wanna call 'em, it's a great excuse for guys to get together and do what guys do best in the presence of kegs of beer: eat and shoot the breeze.
I've been to a few stags before, and even though they're often referred to as “nut fries,” the anatomy du jour is sometimes replaced with thin slices of fried pork loin done up in a similar fashion. I couldn't for the life of me, after thirty-five years on this earth, figure out how I had not partaken of the cut of variety meat that quintessentially defines everything that is manly. I graciously accepted my Wife's Father's invitation with a “Hell, yeah!” and hoped no one would mind if I happened to sneak back into the kitchen to be a bit nosy.
I talked a while with the guy that fingers kept pointing to whenever I asked the guys in the kitchen questions. His name is David Leiker. David was kind enough to answer all of my questions regarding the Knights of Columbus and stag operations. Here's what I found out:
- Though the Saint Francis of Assisi church in Munjor, Kansas has been around for quite a while, its KofC council has only been around for about 15 years.
- With the funds they raise from the stag and other events, the Knights do some awesome charity work. On the state level, the Munjor KofC is one of the many councils that helps make the Special Olympics happen for Kansas. On the local level, the guys focus their charity on things like stipends to deserving seminary students, and have even been known to do the occasional stint of building maintenance when their church needs it.
- The first big fund-raiser the Munjor council put on was a bake sale. Uh-huh. Trust me, their present big gig is a much better arrangement.
- In case you're looking to attend next year, know that although the event is hosted by the guys from Munjor, it's actually held in Schoenchen (another suburb of the burgeoning metropolis that is HaysUSA).
- It took a platoon of 26 Knights to serve well over 200 guys that attended this year's stag.
- While everyone's waiting for dinner, an appetizer of seasoned raw hamburger and saltines is served. It's a Volga German staple in these parts that's especially prevalent around the holidays, I have yet to attend a Christmas function with my in-laws where there's not a plate of the stuff present.
- Along with around 300 lbs of nuts, the Munjor KofC also slow-smoked over 280 lbs of locally-procured bratwurst. Brat selection is kind of a big deal; as samples are bought and then evaluated by the council to determine who the lucky meat locker will be.
- Cooking all those fries is no small task. The prep starts the evening before, when 30-40 lb boxes of frozen product are opened and skinned. While still frozen, the fries are sliced thin on a deli slicer and are then tenderized using a commercial-grade tenderizer.
- The next day, the nuts receive a quick buttermilk bath before they're dredged in seasoned flour and fried to perfection. The KofC has an ensemble of commercial-grade gas fryers that were purchased over the years for this very occasion.
So for those who have not partaken of bull fries, let me taste for you by-proxy. What you're getting is a good bite of beef with a breading that very closely approximates the crispy texture of a good chicken-fry. Bull testicle has the potential to be very tough and chewy if cut and cooked wrong, and every Knight I talked to made it a point to ask me if, “my nuts were tender” (let the double entendre commence!). To the guys' credit, every bite on my plate had a peppery, crispy and crunchy coating that enrobed a tender and meaty bite with an appropriate amount of chew around the edge.
There was no way I couldn't have a swell time at the Munjor stag, and I've already got next year's event marked on my calendar. Great food, ice-cold beer to wash it down; and because I was out with my Father-in-law and his boys, it was all sanctioned by the Mrs.