What Are Chicken Oysters?

The best part of a chicken that you've never heard of.

Southern Living Lemon Roast Chicken With Rainbow Carrots in roasting pan

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Christine Keely

You might be scratching your head reading the term "chicken oysters." Many a seasoned home cook has never heard of this part of a chicken, even those that regularly roast and carve one.

But little-known chicken oysters are one of the most prized parts of the chicken among people who know how to find them.

No, it's not offal, and it's also not a cute nickname for chicken wings. Read on if you want to know what a chicken oyster is, and why it's arguably the most delicious part of the chicken.

What Are Chicken Oysters?

Chicken oysters are oyster-sized pieces of meat on the back side of the chicken, near the lower spine and thighs.

There are two "oysters" on every chicken (one on either side of the spine). and like other dark meat, these little nuggets are super tender, but they are frequently forgotten or discarded with the rest of the carcass.

For those in the know, the oysters are often considered a "chef’s treat": Since you cooked the bird, reward yourself while carving with these bite-sized teasers to the main meal, which many argue are the best part of the chicken. So good in fact, that some chefs don't divulge what they are so that they can stay a delicious little secret.

Turkeys have "oysters" too, which are larger, similarly tender and delicious, but also little known.

Why Are They Called Chicken Oysters? 

If you aren’t a fan of the briny bivalves, don’t worry, because chicken oysters have nothing to do with the sea creature.

The name refers to the size of these little pieces of meat, which are about that of a standard oyster. It’s worth noting that they also aren’t the same thing as Rocky Mountain Oysters, which are the testicles of castrated steer.

In French, chicken oysters are called sot-l’y-laisse, which translates to "the part only a fool leaves behind." Don't be a fool, and make sure to remove the oysters next time you roast a chicken.

What Do Chicken Oysters Taste Like?

They taste similar to any dark meat chicken, although they are prized for being extra juicy, succulent, and concentrated in rich chicken flavor. 

Chicken oysters also don't contain any bones or pesky tough bits of connective tissue.

How Do You Remove The Chicken Oysters? 

After removing the breasts and separating the legs from the cooked chicken carcass, flip the chicken over. Locate the small bumps near the bottom of the backbone; those are the oysters. You should be able to scoop out the small pockets of meat without too much trouble or a knife.

While it's easy to remove the oysters when the chicken is cooked, the oysters are much more difficult to remove when breaking down a raw chicken. You will certainly need a knife and some solid butchery skills. It's best to wait and savor them while carving later.

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