Recent dining trends have led many fans of chicken to shun the dark meat found on thighs and legs.
Unfortunately, this focus on white meat also means that diners miss out on the chicken oysters, one of the most succulent parts of a whole roasted bird.
Chicken oyster meat is quite dark, has a delicious flavor and is lush and moist once your roasted chicken has rested a bit.
Where Is The Chicken Oyster Located?
On a roasted whole bird, the chicken oyster is a dense, rich bit of dark meat at the back of the thigh, or along the low back of the bird, where the thigh meets the spine.
Most cooks, when roasting a whole bird, place it breast side up with the skin on.
When you roast the whole bird, the moisture in the meat is drawing into the center of the bird.
When the roasting is complete and the bird rests a bit, the moisture is drawn back into the flesh at the outer edge of the bird.
This means that the meat known as the oyster is again bathed in moisture and fat, giving it a lush, delicious flavor and tender texture.
How To Cut Out Chicken Oyster Meat
From A Raw Chicken
There is only one good technique to remove the chicken oyster meat from a raw bird, but it can be tricky and may not yield the entire piece.
The following video demonstrates it well. Unfortunately there is no audio to accompany the video itself.
From A Cooked Chicken
- As previously stated, roast your bird breast side up.
- When it’s fully cooked, let the chicken cool until you can cut it comfortably.
- Hold the leg steady with a carving fork in the thigh meat and cut down along the body to split the thigh from the chicken.
- As the thigh falls away, you’ll find the oyster at the back of the thigh.
Sadly, while many consider this the best part of a chicken, it can get discarded without getting removed from the carcass.
If you’re boning rather than carving your chicken, work the cooked bird breast down and search for the hollow in the low back where the thigh bone joins the bird. See our guide on the best kitchen knives to make this task easier.
This area will be flexible after the bird is cooked, and you can probably scoop out the chicken oyster meat without too much trouble.
Chicken Oyster Recipe Ideas
Unfortunately, the chicken oyster is rather hard to get to while the bird is raw.
However, if you have the chance to buy a whole bird and bone it as Chef Gordon Ramsay suggests, the chicken oyster will stay on the carcass.
You can use up the carcass and prepare your chicken oysters in your crockpot.
- Load the crockpot with the carcass, breastbone up, water to cover, a quartered onion, two chopped carrots, two stalks of celery and a sprig of your favorite herbs.
- Cook it overnight at medium (you want the water to reach a bubbling boil so it gets hot enough; chicken must reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit / 75 degrees Celsius.
- When the carcass is cool enough to fish out, you’ll find your chicken oysters waiting as a great treat for your hard work.
Why Does It Have That Name?
The “oyster of the chicken” simply refers to the shape of the meat.
They’re not terribly rare; each chicken comes with two of these oyster-shaped pieces of very dark meat, but this is a portion of the chicken that doesn’t get a lot of work, so it’s extremely rich and tender.
Some cuisines use chicken oysters for kebabs and skewers.
A Note About A Particular Culinary Anxiety
If you live near the sea, oysters are self-explanatory; you can find them in shallow waters, or they’re farmed in coastal waters, and you serve them with horseradish.
Landlocked diners may have heard of a product known as a Rocky Mountain Oyster.
Rocky Mountain Oysters do not come from the sea. They are, in fact, the testicles of newly castrated steers. They’re often roasted over a campfire or sliced, breaded and deep-fried. Many people consider them a delicacy.
What is the oyster of a chicken? Mercifully, it has nothing to do with testicles. Chicken oysters are just meat found along the lower spine of a fully roasted bird. No surprises or worries when carving your bird or enjoying the chicken oysters.
If the idea of “oysters” coming from a landlocked animal is causing you confusion, there’s no need to worry.
The best rule of thumb to remember is that when someone is talking about chicken fried oysters, they’re not talking about chicken meat. Chicken oysters are removed from the carcass after the chicken is baked or cooked.
If you’re offered chicken fried oysters, it’s either oysters from the sea that have been breaded and fried, or it’s Rocky Mountain Oysters. Check with the cook just in case.