A whole roasted chicken is a thing of culinary beauty, isn’t it? They’re tremendously easy to make (as in, you basically just season it and toss it in the oven), and they almost always come out so delicious. Hell, even the rotisserie chickens from Costco are amazing. One of my favorite ways to eat a roasted chicken is simply to pick at it (my house, my rules), and I almost always seek out my favorite part first: the oyster.
What exactly is the oyster?
The oyster of the chicken is located on the backside, just alongside the backbone of the bird. There are a pair of them right where the lower half of the chicken begins, nestled just beyond the thighs, in a little shallow bowl-like shaped part of the bone. If you peel away the skin from that area and apply a little pressure, both oysters will slide right out.
Why is that part of the chicken called the oyster?
When you see them, it’s a pretty obvious answer, but it’s simply because the two pieces of meat do indeed resemble oysters in a way. The bone it comes from is shaped like a shallow half shell, which cradles the tender meat.
So what makes a chicken’s oysters so delicious?
There are multiple reasons why these morsels are so frickin’ good. Because of where they’re located on the bottom of the chicken, if you’re roasting breast-side up, they don’t get exposed directly to any harsh heat. So they almost always cook very gently no matter what method you’re using.
They are also dark meat, which means they naturally contain more fat than, say, chicken breast, and are therefore thankfully harder to overcook. A chicken’s oyster has a soft, silky texture, that falls apart easily when you chew it, and a rich flavor that can’t be beat. They are so, so good.
Be gentle to the chicken oysters
If you’re someone who likes to purchase a chicken and butcher it into its constituent parts, it’s really easy to either mangle the oysters or accidentally leave them on the back of the chicken. Serious Eats has a great video on how to break down a chicken, and at the 1:18 mark, they show you how to preserve that portion without messing it up, as it’s carved off with the leg and thigh quarter.
If you’re going to roast a chicken or get a convenient rotisserie chicken from the supermarket, the first thing you should do when you get home is flip that bird over and dig those things out before anyone else gets a chance to steal them. Hell, do it in the car, even. Then pick at the rest of the thing like I do, because that’s the best way to eat a chicken.