Some may argue that the juicy thigh is the best part of a roasted chicken; others may say it is the tender breast.
But if you’ve ever tasted a chicken oyster, you’d know that it is undoubtedly the best and most delicious part of a chicken!
So, what is a chicken oyster? Chicken oysters are two oval-shaped pieces of dark meat found on the chicken’s backside, close to the backbone. Also called “the chef’s reward,” they have the juiciness of a chicken thigh and the tenderness of a chicken breast.
Read on to find out more about chicken oysters, where they are located on a chicken, what they taste like, how they are used, and more!
What Is A Chicken Oyster?
Chicken oysters are two small, round-shaped pieces of dark meat that are found on the back of the chicken’s thigh near the backbone.
They are called “oysters” because when they are taken out of the chicken, they look like oysters on a half-shell. Some even say that they have a similar flavor!
Also known as “the chef’s reward” since they are served to the chef as a small reward for a good job, chicken oysters are one of the most flavorful parts of the chicken.
Chicken oysters are considered rare in American cuisine because they are rather hard to find.
Most cuts of chicken are easy to locate, especially when sitting right-side up. Chicken oysters, on the other hand, sit on the bottom of the chicken and are sneakily hidden. For many chefs, it is often a neglected piece of meat.
Each chicken has two of these oyster-shaped pieces of dark meat, and since this body part doesn’t get a lot of work, it is extremely rich and tender.
Since chicken oysters aren’t commonly sold by meat processors, the only way to enjoy them is by roasting and carving the chicken yourself!
What Do Chicken Oysters Taste Like?
When roasting a whole chicken, the liquid and fluid all draw towards the center where the chicken oysters are located.
What this means is that the oysters not only roast in their juices and fats, but also remain protected from extreme heat since they hide inside the chicken’s body.
The result is a delicious, soft, tender piece of chicken meat that is arguably the best!
Since they are fatty pieces of meat, they are incredibly juicy, and the way the chicken is roasted adds to the flavor.
Unlike other pieces of dark meat, chicken oysters have no connective tissue that needs to be cut out or slow-cooked into more liquid. The result is an extremely tender piece of meat.
Also, the oyster is one of the largest pieces of dark meat that can be enjoyed without deboning. Even though it is boneless, since it is surrounded by bone, it enjoys all the advantages of a bone-in piece without actually being one.
How To Cut Out Chicken Oyster Meat
The reason chicken oysters are considered a rare delicacy is that they are so difficult to locate, especially for someone who doesn’t know where to look.
The wings, breasts, and thighs are all in obvious locations, but when it comes to chicken oysters, most people throw them away since they don’t know what they are!
Since chicken oysters are conveniently hidden inside the bird, it requires a few techniques to locate them.
There are two easy methods for cutting out chicken oyster meat — let’s learn about them!
- Turn the whole chicken so it’s breast side up.
- Using a sharp knife, start carving through the skin of the leg quarter.
- As you separate the leg quarter from the bird, use the tip of your knife to slice around the socket and free up the oyster from the inside.
- The oyster will still be attached to the chicken thigh once the leg quarter is removed.
- Extract the oyster from there and repeat on the other leg.
- Turn the whole chicken so it’s breast side down.
- Using a sharp knife or poultry scissors, remove both thighs from the chicken.
- Peel away the skin and any remnants.
- Use your fingers or a utensil to pop out the oysters located at the back of the thighs sitting in an indentation.
How Are Chicken Oysters Used?
Chicken oysters are a delicacy traditionally prepared and cooked as part of a full-roasted chicken. If you do not want to roast an entire chicken, you can extract the oysters from the raw chicken and cook them separately.
The best way to cook chicken oysters is to roast, fry, air-fry, or grill them. They go well with a lot of ingredients such as lemon, rosemary, thyme, white wine, garlic, roasted potatoes and carrots, and olive oil.
Fried chicken oysters are a great way to enjoy this delicious dark meat, mainly because it doesn’t dry out and is boneless.
Thought of as a dark meat chicken tender, the meat of chicken oyster is often compared to the tenderloin of the chicken breast.
If you don’t wish to fry the oysters and risk ruining their delicate flavor and texture, head over to the closest Japanese Yakitori restaurant to enjoy delicious chicken oysters among other meat delicacies you may not have tried before!
Chicken oysters are traditionally grilled on a skewer in these restaurants and are also an incredibly easy way to make them in your kitchen.
Marinade the oysters in a delicious rub and grill them until they are done in the middle. For maximum flavor, they are often dipped in soy sauce or other sauces.
Since chicken oysters are boneless and juicy, they are incredibly forgiving to new techniques and can be prepared in several different ways.
You can experiment with the recipe and cooking method — as long as the chicken oysters are cooked properly, they should taste great!
Useful Tips For Handling Chicken Oysters
Here are a few helpful tips for handling chicken oysters so that they are safe to eat and turn out amazing:
- Always store raw chicken in an airtight container either in the refrigerator at 40°F or a freezer at 0°F.
- For frozen chicken, thaw it in the refrigerator rather than on the kitchen counter.
- Be careful when handling raw chicken and always thoroughly wash your hands, utensils, and countertops to prevent cross-contamination.
- Use a sharp knife for cutting the chicken, especially when cutting through sinew and small bones in the legs.
- Leave the skin on the rest of the chicken to keep the meat moist and tender.
- Avoid overcooking or undercooking the chicken as the former will turn rubbery and the latter might make you sick.
Ways To Cook Chicken Oysters
As mentioned above, there are several ways to cook chicken oysters. When doing so, just make sure the chicken is cooked to at least 165°F as it will determine whether or not the oysters, or any other part of the chicken, are safe to eat.
As always, make sure to handle raw poultry with extreme care and you should be good to go!
Here are some of the most popular cooking methods for chicken oysters.
- Place the chicken oysters in a bowl and season them with salt and pepper.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together some olive oil and minced garlic.
- Place the chicken oysters in a small roasting dish and drizzle them with the garlic olive oil prepared in the previous step.
- Roast the chicken oysters for 15 minutes and take them out of the oven.
- Check the internal temperature of the chicken oysters — it should be at least 165°F. If it is less than that, plop them back in the oven for an additional 5 minutes.
- Serve the delicious chicken oysters with your choice of seasonings and side dishes such as green beans, roasted potatoes, creamed spinach, and honey-glazed carrots.
- Set a frying pan on the stove on medium heat.
- Add some olive oil.
- Place the chicken oysters in the pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side.
- Drain the excess fat from the pan and add the butter and seasonings.
- Cook them for an additional minute.
- Remove from pan and serve with steamed carrots, a side salad, and some garlic dipping sauce.
- Preheat the air fryer to 400°F.
- In a bowl, mix the chicken oysters with some olive oil and season them with salt, pepper, and other seasonings.
- Place the chicken oysters in the air fryer basket and let them fry for about 10 minutes.
- Check if the chicken oysters are crispy and cooked all the way through. If not, put them back in the air fryer for another 5 minutes.
- Serve with your choice of toppings and side dishes such as roasted vegetables and salad.
- Prepare a marinade in a small bowl by mixing some olive oil, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, and fresh herbs such as rosemary and thyme.
- Add the chicken oysters into the bowl and toss to coat them completely in the marinade.
- Put the bowl in the fridge and allow the chicken oysters to marinate for at least 30 minutes. It is best to leave them refrigerated for 2–4 hours.
- Preheat the grill to medium-high.
- Place the marinated chicken oysters on the grill.
- Grill the oysters for 3–5 minutes on each side, or until their internal temperature reaches 165°F.
- Allow the chicken oysters to cool for a few minutes before serving them with potato wedges, steamed broccoli, or tomato salad.
Are Chicken Oysters Popular?
Although chicken oysters are referred to as the chef’s favorite part of the bird, they may not be everyone’s cup of tea due to their rich and moist flavor.
Despite being roasted and grilled, chicken oysters have more of that seafood feel, which is why they might not be preferred by everyone.
Keeping that in mind, when you are cooking for a crowd, it is not advised to cook a meal of chicken oysters unless you are sure that most of the guests like them.
How To Tell If Chicken Oysters Are Bad
Like other parts of a raw chicken, the oysters don’t last a very long time if not handled or stored properly. They may start to show signs of spoilage and must be discarded immediately as eating them can make you very sick.
Start by looking for changes in their color.
Fresh, raw chicken oysters have a slightly darker shade because they are a type of dark meat. But if the color appears to be duller or has yellow spots, chances are that it has spoiled.
Smelling the chicken can also help assess its freshness.
Raw chicken that has spoiled has a very potent odor, which most people describe as sour and similar to ammonia. If the chicken oysters take on an unpleasant or strong odor, do not risk eating them.
Another way to check is to feel the chicken.
Compared to the color and smell test, it may be difficult to assess the quality of the meat by touching it since raw chicken is naturally glossy and slimy. If it is slimier than usual, even after washing it, it is most likely bad.
If you’ve frozen the raw chicken oysters in unsuitable conditions or for a very long time, check the condition of the chicken by looking for an ice crust. If it has a thick layer of ice crust, it most probably isn’t good.
Freezer burn may also cause white rashes or marks on the oysters which means that their quality has been compromised. While it will still be safe to eat, it may not be as flavorful.
Telling the exact color of a frozen piece of meat may be a bit difficult since it gets dull because of the low temperature. But if it looks duller than usual, you must investigate further and be fully satisfied with its quality before consuming it.
Chicken Oysters Vs Turkey Oysters
Chicken is not the only poultry item with oysters. You will find them on turkeys, ducks, and even geese, and locating them follows much of the same procedure.
When it comes to turkey oysters, they are found in turkey meat and are bigger and meatier than chicken oysters. This is mainly because turkeys are bigger than chickens.
In terms of taste, turkey oysters are richer, but both turkey and chicken oysters are sweeter, juicier, and more tender than the rest of the bird meat.
Now that you know all about chicken oysters, along with their taste and uses, here are a few additional questions we thought you might have!
What is the difference between white meat and dark meat?
Some parts of the chicken are referred to as white meat, while some are called dark meat.
White meat, which is found in chicken breasts and wings, contains around 10% red fibers, is lean in texture and mild in flavor, and can dry out easily if it is overcooked.
Dark meat found in chicken legs has around 50% red fibers, is juicier and more flavorful, and can be cooked for longer.
What do oysters taste like?
Unlike other types of seafood, oysters do not taste overly fishy. Instead, they have a very subtle, fishy flavor with notes of minerals depending on the type of oyster.
Raw oysters by themselves do not have a very strong flavor, which is why they are paired with a lemon sauce for additional flavor.
Are chicken oysters actually testicles?
No, chicken oysters have nothing to do with testicles. They are a type of dark meat found along the chicken’s spine.
Rocky mountain oysters, on the other hand, are delicacy made from testicles of newly castrated steers that are often roasted over campfires, sliced, breaded, or deep-fried.