Turkey ‘oysters’, truffles and bucatini
At first view that title reads like an expensive dish because of the words oysters and truffles, but fear not. It is not what it seems.
Turkey oyster, or chicken oyster, is the English denomination for what the French call “Le sot l’y laisse” (The fool leaves it), which is a small bit of meat that is often left on the carcass when carving.
Originally, these bits were part of the butt – and are called in English the pope’s nose – or the bird’s rear end that supported and directed the tail feathers and also includes a gland.
In the past, and still in some French families, people vied for obtaining that bit of a roast chicken, to suck the mucous membrane and some soft muscles surrounded by fat. An acquired taste, and not very dietetic.
However, there are two other small parts of meat lodged in the carcass, about a quarter up the spine from the butt, which are often overlooked in carving specially when a cold carcass is cut up with a machine as is the case for most of the chickens presented divided into breasts, legs and wings.
The processing industry and some cooks found a way to use those pieces, slightly reddish and firm and with the shape of an oyster. Hence the name.
I was once in Luxembourg and ate in a restaurant where they only had dishes made from the sot l’y laisse and I wondered how they could get such quantities as you needed at least four birds for one meal of sot l’y laisses. The answer was in a supply deal with a local poultry abattoir. They got some money for the left-overs and the restaurant – called “Le sot l’y laisse” had a relatively cheap and unusual ingredient on the menu. Pity they came clearly from the freezer and were not very well prepared when I ate there five years ago. There is a restaurant with the same name in Paris but they have quite a different menu.
The chicken oysters are just about a spoonful. In a turkey they are larger and these are sold separately.
For the truffles, I did not have fresh black Melanosporum or white Alba truffles, but a small tin of Brumale truffle peelings (pellures).
Bucatini are a kind of spaghetti with a lengthwise hole – which means you have relatively thick spaghetti, which is good with sauces, a brief cooking time and not a solid stick of wheat flour and eggs.
Ingredients for two
- Six turkey oysters
- Small tin of truffle peelings (fresh is better and more expensive)
- Salt, pepper
- Butter, oil
- Piment d’espelette
- Bucatini piccoli (for instance De Cecco no 14)
- A sachet or cube of chicken stock (or left-over stock)
- Fill a large pan with water and bring it to the boil.
- Meanwhile, dry the turkey oysters.
- Heat butter and oil in a skillet and fry the oysters on all sides.
- Put a lid on the skillet and cook for some 20 minutes, turning from time to time and, if needed, adding some liquid (water, white wine). It is more likely that there will be plenty of liquid in the skillet and you may want to take off the lid for the last 5-10 minutes for evaporation.
- Add salt, pepper and piment d’Espelette to taste (and colour, turkey can be greyish).
- Once the water is boiling, add the stock and wait until it has dissolved.
- About 10 minutes before you want to serve, put the bucatini in the water and cook for six minutes. Check for firmness at the end, you want it al dente – not too hard, not too soft, but with ‘bite’.
- Set apart and keep warm (for instance in a colander above the hot pan – or with the top bit of a special pasta pan askew on the top of the pan with the hot, but not cooking water).
- Cut the turkey in slices.
- Pour half a cup of cream in a pan and bring to the boil.
- Put the turkey slices on a serving dish or individual plates and lay a slice of truffle on top.
- Put the rest of the truffles in the cooking cream, stir and put the heat down.
- Put the cream mixture in a bowl, add the drained pasta, mix and serve.