Oyster (fowl)

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Position of the oysters in a chicken
Chicken Oysters

Oysters are two small, round pieces of dark meat on the back of poultry near the thigh,[1] in the hollow on the dorsal side of the ilium bone. Some regard the "oyster meat" to be the most flavorful and tender part of the bird, while others dislike the taste and texture.

Compared to dark meat found in other parts of the bird, the oyster meat has a somewhat firm/taut texture which gives it a distinct mouth feel. It is also customary for the cook to be given first preference to the oyster meat.

In French, this part of the bird is called sot-l'y-laisse which translates, roughly, to "the fool leaves it there",[2] as unskilled carvers sometimes accidentally leave it on the skeleton.

In popular culture[edit]

In the film Red Dragon, a reference to oysters is what indirectly leads FBI profiler Will Graham to capture serial-killer Hannibal Lecter. Graham had contacted Dr. Lecter, a renowned psychiatrist, to help develop a profile for the "Chesapeake Ripper" he was tracking. Lecter told Graham that the Chesapeake Ripper must be removing body parts from his victims to keep as trophies, and thus developed a psychological profile based on sexual dysfunction. However, when Graham later attended a New Year's Eve party at a friend's house, while carving a chicken the host explained to Graham's son that "the tenderest part of the chicken is the oysters, here on the outer side of the back". The realization then hit Graham that the same cut of meat was taken out of the back of one of the Chesapeake Ripper's victims. Indeed, all of his victims had body parts removed which are used in cooking (liver, kidney, tongue, cuts of meat), as opposed to sexually motivated trophies (genitals are mostly gristle and not very edible). Graham quickly arrives at Dr. Lecter's office in the middle of the night to explain his realization (commenting that he's never heard of the expression "oysters" before), and questions how Lecter could come up with a psychological profile for the killer that was so inaccurate. However, Graham then realizes that Lecter himself is the serial killer and a cannibal, leading to his capture.

In the French film 'Amelie' reference is also made to a character who buys a chicken once a week and eats the oysters first.


  1. ^ "How to Carve Chicken and Turkey". Cooks.com. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Only a Fool Would Leave Them," Bitten, Mark Bittman, New York Times, April 27, 2009