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Chicken Thigh Gizzard?

theworkingstiff Jun 20, 2011 08:22 PM

I was wondering what organ/part of the chicken the gizzard-like thing is on the underside of the thigh? It rest in a notch protected by bone and is my favorite part. any ideas?

  1. inaplasticcup Jun 20, 2011 08:38 PM

    You're not alone:



    I love the stuff too and have been wondering the same for years. :)

    1. b
      Big Bad Voodoo Lou Jun 20, 2011 08:42 PM

      They're often called the "oysters," and they're my favorite part of a chicken. I always order thighs, just hoping for those perfect dark little morsels, and if I'm preparing a whole chicken, they never even make it to the serving platter.


      7 Replies
      1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou
        inaplasticcup Jun 20, 2011 09:12 PM

        I don't think tws is referring to the oysters, which are the somewhat oyster shaped pieces of meat embedded in that concave section of bone. I think it's about the little liver tasting things under the thigh. (?)

        1. re: inaplasticcup
          theworkingstiff Jun 20, 2011 09:43 PM

          Not the oysters. The liver thing under the thigh, yes.

          1. re: theworkingstiff
            Big Bad Voodoo Lou Jun 20, 2011 10:21 PM

            I'm sure that's the part I like, but I've always (mistakenly) called it the oysters. Definitely a oval-shaped, dark, livery piece of delicious meat.

            1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou
              2roadsdiverge Jun 22, 2011 02:27 PM

              This YouTube video shows a chef deboning a chicken leg. While there is no mention of the organ meat mentioned here, it does show the oyster very well. The chef points it out at about the 15 second mark.


              1. re: 2roadsdiverge
                John E. Jun 22, 2011 04:50 PM

                Cutting up a chicken in the manner shown in the video does not result in the topic of this thread (the liver-like stuff) being a part of the thigh. When commercial poultry operations cut up chicken, the backbone is often included in the hindquarter, that is, the leg with the thigh still attached.

                1. re: John E.
                  2roadsdiverge Jun 22, 2011 07:20 PM

                  Right. I was simply clarifying that the piece described truly is not the oyster, and showing what the oyster actually is.

                  1. re: 2roadsdiverge
                    John E. Jun 22, 2011 08:56 PM

                    Oh, ok you're right. We also know it's not the kidneys too. I still think it's just blood-filled tissue of some sort.

      2. Stephanie Wong Jun 20, 2011 10:21 PM

        If they're located inside the body cavity (one on each side of the spine), probably kidneys -- soft texture similar to liver?

        9 Replies
        1. re: Stephanie Wong
          John E. Jun 21, 2011 04:29 AM

          The 'oysters' in chickens are not organ meat. They are round-shaped muscles located near where the chicken's leg is attached to the body. Apparently, the oysters are also not the part to which the OP is referring.

          1. re: John E.
            Stephanie Wong Jun 21, 2011 06:39 AM

            I know -- that's why I specified within the body cavity. Was wondering if OP's "on the underside of the thigh" was external (as in "oyster") or internal (as in organ meat). Sorry if I wasn't clear.

            1. re: Stephanie Wong
              John E. Jun 21, 2011 09:38 AM

              I Replied to your post by mistake, sorry.

          2. re: Stephanie Wong
            inaplasticcup Jun 21, 2011 07:45 AM

            It would appear from JJournale's response on this thread


            that it is indeed the kidneys, and Stephanie Wong takes Chicken Anatomy for $1000, Alex.

            1. re: inaplasticcup
              John E. Jun 21, 2011 09:36 AM

              Actually, the kidneys are shaped like kidney beans (thus the name) and are about the same size as the large kidney beans. They are removed from the chicken during processing and are not returned like the gizzard, heart, and liver. The cooked stuff the OP first posted about is not an organ. When I run across it when cleaning raw chicken, I usually take my thumb and run it along the bone and remove it. What we need on this thread to make sure everyone is referring to the same stuff are photos.

              1. re: John E.
                inaplasticcup Jun 21, 2011 09:43 AM

                Then is it the ilium as another person suggested? I really want to get to the bottom of this. :)

                1. re: inaplasticcup
                  John E. Jun 21, 2011 09:48 AM

                  I looked at the diagram in the provided link and understood the ilium to be a bone that it part of the pelvis. I'm not really fond of chicken liver, so I remove this 'stuff' when cleaning the chicken. I am positive it is not the kidneys because it is the wrong shape. I think it is just internal tissue with a lot of blood vessels running through it. Maybe it is for increased blood-flow to enable the chicken to run around after it has been decapitated.

                  1. re: John E.
                    inaplasticcup Jun 21, 2011 09:53 AM

                    "...to enable the chicken to run around after it's been decapitated."

                    That's very funny. I needed that laugh today. Thanks, John. :)

                2. re: John E.
                  SherBel Jun 22, 2011 07:46 PM

                  I've had to remove the kidneys from chickens for years; they are not removed during processing. I learned about them from Barbara Tropp, until she wrote a book containing the instructions for removing them I had no idea that they were there.

                  It's a bit fiddly, but well worth the few minutes that it takes to get them out. I do it under running water, you pretty much have to get in there with your fingers to dig them out. Ever roasted a chicken with stuffing, and had the stuffing taste a bit....off....a bit horrid? It's the kidneys that it's nestling up against. Ick.

            2. Karl S Jun 21, 2011 08:06 AM

              The kidneys. The best thing to do is to scoop them out with a paper towel before cooking (something older butchers used to do, but now with industrial processing is often omitted or badly done) and rinse off. The kidneys are relatively bitter and unless you like that are best removed to avoid tainting one's eating.

              Much nastier than the kidneys, though, is the gallbladder, which one sometimes finds attached to chicken livers (or sometimes one finds the livers got a nasty splash of bile when the gallbladder was removed).

              1. johnb Jun 22, 2011 08:20 PM

                This has been addressed before. In addition to some threads mentioned above, here is another from 2007, which also doesn't appear in the list below, at least not yet.


                All of the various threads on this topic have folks who say it is the oyster, but that's not correct. Apparently kidney is the winner.

                For me, I love them both.

                1 Reply
                1. re: johnb
                  Stephanie Wong Jun 22, 2011 11:35 PM

                  I'm with you in loving the kidneys -- if well rinsed and then well-seasoned. In fact, my fav piece of fried chicken is the back assuming the oysters were left intact.

                2. t
                  thimes Jun 23, 2011 06:59 AM

                  Anyone have a picture of exactly what part we are talking about? Sounds like we are all making assumptions about different "parts" . . . .

                  Sounds to me like it could be the femoral artery - shown here (dyed so it wouldn't be blue like this in real life but could be dark in color in real life - even if kosher chicken)

                  So once cooked if the "thigh gizzard" is essentially the "clump" to the left of this picture (which shows the underside of the thigh - hip joint to the left, knee to the right) then it is the artery

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: thimes
                    inaplasticcup Jun 23, 2011 07:19 AM

                    We're in luck as I just made stock. The bottom of the pic is the pope's nose and the organ in question, I think, is indicated by the chopstick. :) There's one on each side.

                    Snack time!!! :D

                    1. re: inaplasticcup
                      thimes Jun 23, 2011 08:07 AM

                      looks like where the kidney should be to me

                      the second image (I think) shows the testicles on top/next to the kidneys. I know a lot of people think that those white kidney looking organs are the kidneys but they aren't . . . . (I'm no chicken anatomist but I'm pretty sure - or as sure as any unreliable online source can be)

                      1. re: inaplasticcup
                        inaplasticcup Jun 23, 2011 08:07 AM

                        Assuming that chicken kidneys look like kidney beans, and since these don't, lungs maybe?

                        1. re: inaplasticcup
                          thimes Jun 23, 2011 08:12 AM

                          yeah I don't think chicken kidneys look like our kidneys. Birds don't have the same urinary tract we do (no bladder/etc) so the whole system works differently (I'll just leave it at that since this is a food board).

                          We eat mainly boy chickens (young boys at that) in the grocery stores and so what looks "most" like a kidney to us I think is the testes. The bird kidney is pretty wedged into the body cavity so that is what I think you are finding when you dig in there.

                          1. re: thimes
                            inaplasticcup Jun 23, 2011 08:32 AM

                            Thanks, thimes! It's not until I read this post that I realized I've been wondering for years, nay, DECADES, what those things are.

                        2. re: inaplasticcup
                          John E. Jun 23, 2011 10:20 AM

                          I believe your photo shows the oyster and not the tissue in question. Heck, if I would have known about a discussionike this, I would have taken some photos of the 7-1/2 pound roast chicken we had last Sunday. When nobody was looking, I ate the oysters since nobody else in my family seems to be aware of them.

                          1. re: John E.
                            inaplasticcup Jun 23, 2011 10:31 AM

                            LOL. That's definitely not what I've come to know as the chicken oyster, which is muscle meat embedded into a concave section of bone.

                            Here's a link to a blogpost that talks about the chicken oyster. I don't think it's the best illustration as the oyster is kind of lost in the thigh meat, but that's what I know to be a chicken oyster.


                            This other stuff in my pic is definitely organ, not meat-, flavored. :)

                            1. re: inaplasticcup
                              John E. Jun 23, 2011 01:02 PM

                              I must have misunderstood your photo then because I know exactly what and where the oysters are. If what the OP is attempting to discover is in fact the kidneys and if Johnb's post below accurately describes the material as the kidneys, I'm glad I remove them when cleaning chicken and do not consume them when eating chicken.

                              1. re: John E.
                                johnb Jun 23, 2011 07:22 PM

                                I agree with you about the oysters--the best part of any poultry. I also tend to consume them in the kitchen before sending the rest of the bird out to the table. After all, the cook deserves a little something for all his hard work. It's truly amazing how few people know about them. Better for the rest of us.

                                I disagree with you about the kidneys, tho. They are right up there vying for the title of second best part of the bird. As others have said, they taste a lot like the liver. So I suppose if you don't like liver you won't like them.

                                Here is a thread I once started on the subject of eating the best part yourself, that deals with some of the same issues:


                      2. johnb Jun 23, 2011 10:26 AM

                        This paragraph from a USDA piece on poultry anatomy: (It may be best to stop reading after the kidney part)

                        The urinary system of the chicken does not contain a urinary bladder. There are two tri- lobed kidneys, one on each side of the ventral surface of the vertebral column. This pair of kidneys is embedded in the deep bony crypts of the pelvic and synsacral area of the skeleton. Ureters carry the urinary waste to the cloaca. The uric acid is discharged into the cloaca and excreted with the feces. The white pasty material in chicken droppings is considered to be urinary system excretion. Birds excrete their nitrogen waste as uric acid, whereas mammals excrete it in the form of urea.

                        1. Melanie Wong Jun 26, 2011 09:38 AM


                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Melanie Wong
                            inaplasticcup Jun 26, 2011 08:07 PM

                            The spleen appears much rounder than these organs (?), Melanie. I think you might have been correct the first time, but I can't be sure as I really have NO IDEA what avian kidneys look like. :P

                          2. y
                            yinouye Jun 26, 2011 06:54 PM

                            whatever that thingie is, it's gross! Just found it while preparing dinner (i'm sorta new to this cooking thing, so never come across it before) and ran screaming out of the room-i'm buying strictly boneless from now on! or at least NEVER the thigh and leg pieces still attached together!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: yinouye
                              inaplasticcup Jun 26, 2011 07:57 PM

                              Awww. It won't bite. I promise. :)

                              1. re: yinouye
                                Melanie Wong Jun 26, 2011 07:57 PM

                                Unfortunately, you'll miss out on a lot of flavor and juiciness by not cooking meat on the bone.

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