City Chicken | Renee's Kitchen Adventures

Friday, November 15, 2019

City Chicken

This is the very best recipe for City Chicken! You might be surprised that City Chicken, (also known as mock chicken), is not actually chicken at all. It's a regional dish that is made from pork sirloin cubes (or sometimes a combination of pork and veal) that have been thread onto skewers, browned, then slow braised. It's one of my very favorite Cleveland comfort foods of all time!

This City Chicken recipe with gravy will quickly become your new favorite and have your family asking for that chicken recipe that isn't chicken for dinner!

City Chicken on plate

What is City Chicken and how do you cook it?


According to Wikipedia city chicken, also known in some locations as mock drumsticks or mock chicken, is an entrĂ©e consisting of cubes of meat (usually pork), which have been threaded onto a wooden skewer (about 4-5 inches long), breaded, and then fried and/or baked.

The city chicken recipe origins date back to the 1700's when raising chickens in the populated cities became impossible. Inexpensive cuts of pork skewered on sticks to resemble chicken drumsticks became a substitute for chicken as a meal.

Over the years, city chicken recipes have included other cuts of meat as well, such as veal or beef...but living here in Cleveland, I've always made my city chicken recipe with only pork, and that is how I like it! 

City Chicken on plate

Growing up right outside of Cleveland Ohio, in the area of the midwest known as the rust belt, I had many opportunities to eat the different variations on City Chicken. You could not only find homecooks making the dish but it was also almost always offered on local diner menus.

There's a restaurant, not far from my present home, that still has it on the menu today. While I enjoy Simon's version of City Chicken, I still think I like my own version a little better.

You may find some versions of this recipe pan fry the city chicken and call it a day. While that method is ok, I love to bake the pork skewers once they are breaded and brown in a low, slow oven. This really gets the pork tender and it will literally fall off of the stick. To me, that's the comfort food I'm after!

The best way to cook city chicken is low and slow in the oven until it is fork tender. It really is the secret!

Where can you find pork for City Chicken? 


Assuming you live in areas known as the rust belt of the midwest, you can buy pork sirloin already cut into cubes and packaged with skewers specifically for city chicken right in your local grocery stores.

But if you live outside that area. You will have difficulty finding pork (or a mixture of pork and veal) pre-cut and packaged with skewers for your city chicken recipe. There is an alternative though. You can buy pork sirloin or loin and cut it into 1" cubes yourself then use shortened bamboo skewers to thread it on to. I have done this when pre-packaged cubes aren't available. I just ask my butcher for the skewers when I prepare them this way. But, you can also purchase the short skewers if he doesn't have any to share with you.




City chicken in the pan


How do you cook city chicken in the oven?


To make this city chicken recipe, start by threading pork cubes onto the skewers. Get the pork cubes as tight as you can get them on the skewers for best results!  The next step is to bread them with a three step breading process.

City Chicken raw and in the process of getting floured

That means dredging the pork in seasoned flour, followed by egg beaters or egg wash, and lastly Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs.

I like to add smoked paprika and a little extra salt and pepper to the dry seasoned bread crumbs to help elevate the flavor.

City Chicken in the process of getting breaded

The city chicken is then browned in oil on medium high heat...(taking care not to overcrowd the pan). You aren't actually cooking the pork all the way here, just simply browning on all sides. This whole process goes fairly quickly.

The pork cubes will be brown on the outside, but still raw on the inside.

City Chicken breaded and in pan

Once the city chicken pieces have all been browned and placed into the baking dish,  a little chicken stock is added to the bottom of the pan and its covered tightly with foil.

The city chicken is then baked in a 325 degree F oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until it is is fork tender. (Checking at the 1 1/2 hour mark).

City Chicken breaded, seared and ready for the oven

What can you serve with City Chicken?

I like to serve my city chicken with gravy and mashed potatoes, but rice pilaf and mixed vegetables go well with it too!  My gravy is simply a mixture of canned pork and mushroom gravy...because that's what we like!

If you want to elevate this simple comfort food classic to a new level, try serving it with Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes! YUM!

Does City Chicken taste like chicken?


My family swears that this city chicken recipe really does taste like chicken drumsticks (hence the nickname, mock drumsticks!). Me, I'm not so sure.

One thing I do know for sure is that this city chicken recipe is delicious and a definite keeper!


Make it, taste it, and you be the judge!



City chicken on the fork looking very tender

Want to learn more about pork and where it comes from? 

Check out this article about my visit to an Ohio Hog Farm!

Hungry for more of Cleveland's favorite recipes?

Try my recipe for the iconic Polish Boy Sandwich!





City Chicken, Mock chicken drumsticks, City Chicken Recipe
Main Course, pork
American - Cleveland
Yield: 4 servings
Author:

City Chicken

City Chicken

prep time: 15 Mcook time: 2 hourtotal time: 2 H & 15 M
City Chicken is not chicken at all! It's a regional pork dish consisting of pork sirloin cubes threaded on a skewer, breaded and baked until for tender. Some say they resemble chicken drumsticks.

ingredients:

  • 1 pound cubed pork sirloin plus skewers
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup egg beaters, or two eggs beaten with 1 TBSP water
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika ( optional )
  • 3 TBSP olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 can or jar of gravy ( pork or mushroom or one of each mixed together ), heated

instructions:

How to cook City Chicken

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a glass baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside. ( I always make double the recipe, so I use a 9 x 13" baking dish..but you could go smaller if you are only making 4 skewers)
  2. Set up a breading station. Seasoned flour, eggbeaters, and then the breadcrumbs. Add the smoked paprika to the breadcrumbs if using. Thread 4 cubes of pork onto each skewer. Dust first with flour, shaking off excess, then dip each skewer into the eggbeaters, followed by the breadcrumbs. Heat a nonstick pan over med high heat with 1 TBS oil of your choice. Brown the breaded pork on all sides. You aren't looking to cook the pork, just get a nice brown.
  3. Once the pork is browned, transfer to the prepared baking dish. Leave a little space between each skewer. Pour chicken stock into the bottom of the pan and cover tightly with foil. Bake in 325 degree oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until pork is fork tender. Serve with heated gravy.
Calories
437.02
Fat (grams)
24.22
Sat. Fat (grams)
5.20
Carbs (grams)
13.39
Fiber (grams)
0.61
Net carbs
12.78
Sugar (grams)
1.34
Protein (grams)
39.29
Sodium (milligrams)
347.13
Cholesterol (grams)
143.37
Nutritional Information is an estimate.

Did you make this recipe?
Tag @renees_kitchen_adventures on instagram and hashtag it #RKArecipes
Created using The Recipes Generator


Pin City Chicken to your Pinterest Boards!

City Chicken | Renee's Kitchen Adventures pin for Pintrest


This post was originally posted on Renee's Kitchen Adventures April 2012. It has been updated with a new printable recipe card with more information on the recipe and updated instructions. It's a great recipe that has been made in my kitchen for many years. I hope that you will give it a try!

Like what you see?  Follow RKA on all these social networks!!

45 comments:

  1. I have not had it or heard of it. My husband's family is from the midwest, I will have to ask if they have had it! It looks tasty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just love it....but it is very regional. Mostly around the Great Lakes region of the midwest. You will have to let me know if he has ever had it!

      Delete
  2. I've never heard of city chicken! I love this :) I've been meaning to pan-fry something for a while now and this looks totally interesting. My brother has been craving mashed potatoes lol!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've never heard of such a thing! but the outcome looks so yummy!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I confess I only eat things like hay, grain and Peanuts. But the Goatmother is from Oklahoma and she has never had this. She says it looks awfully yummy though. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is the first time I'm hearing of city chicken but it seems like it's a fried (or baked) kabob, right? I mean that sounds AH-MAZING, even better than a regular old kabob! I can't wait to slather these with some good old gravy :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've never heard of city chicken either and I grew up in the midwest - weird! That being said - it looks delicious - definitely putting this on the menu - soon!

    ReplyDelete
  7. This looks so good - I am also from the midwest, and never have heard of it! It makes sense that people would want their chicken, and no room to raise them. Very cool! Love your pictures!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Nope - I've never had that before, but it looks great!

    And the calories aren't that bad either!

    ReplyDelete
  9. No, I've never even heard of it but I loved hearing the back story on it. I just bought a pork tenderloin but have a busy day tomorrow so I might have to surrender it to the crockpot. If I can swing it, I'm so making this with my breadless breading! Woot!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you make it with tenderloin, you might have to play with the bake time a little bit. It's a much more tender cut than pork sirloin. :)

      Delete
    2. I can't believe that there's a City Chicken recipe posted!!! I've started to believe that this dish was a figment of my imagination because every time I asked someone if they had ever heard of or tasted City Chicken, their eyes glazed over! My grandma in Pittsburgh used to make hers with a combo of veal and pork like the Michigan poster below. Ditto the cracker crumbs! Thanks SO much for the trip down memory lane:-)

      Delete
    3. I'm so glad you could experience your heritage through this recipe. I'll have to give the cracker crumbs a try sometime!

      Delete
  10. I've never heard of city chicken and I grew up in the midwest, but I love it! My family would love this!

    ReplyDelete
  11. City chicken w/mashed potatoes and gravy is one of my family's favorite meals. I live in Michigan and my mom made city chicken when I was growing up. I always use pork and veal, coat w/flour, then egg wash and then saltine cracker crumbs.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I grew up in northern West Virginia and am familiar with city chicken. Can't wait to try this recipe!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I am from NE Ohio, and don't know what part of my heritage this dish comes from, but I always thought it was too cool that you could cook pork, and it tastes like the best darn chicken you ever tasted!.... Hence the name. We sprinkle the pork with nutmeg, not paprika.. the rest of this recipe is spot on!! .. and It is more yummy than you would ever think!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh wow! I love the idea of using nutmeg! I'll have to try that next time!

      Delete
  14. I just made this using your recipe-- the only alteration was I used Shake and Bake and it was AMAZING! My husband just told me it was the best meal I ever made. Thank you for sharing this recipe- I couldn't remember how my mom made it when I was growing up so when I saw your ingredients it looked familiar. I grew up in Ohio and this was a staple while growing up. thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your review! I've made it with shake and bake too! Cooking it this way really makes the pork fork tender. I am so glad you and your husband enjoyed it! :)

      Delete
  15. Love City Chicken, grew up in Akron, Ohio and this meal was often on our dinner table. Always had it with mashed potatoes and gravy.

    ReplyDelete
  16. We love city chicken but without the gravy. Lately mine has been tough though. Is there a way to slow bake it and still have it come out with a crunchy breading?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My son doesn't like gravy on his either. I'm not sure if there is away to keep the breading crispy and yet get a tender pork.

      Delete
  17. I get the sensation of comfort just looking at your great recipics! This will definitely be on my to do list this week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Brian! I hope you love it as much as we do. I have to admit, editing the photos made me crave it today! haha

      Delete
  18. Wow, where was my family when this recipe became a Midwestern favorite? Maybe asleep at the wheel! If you say it's delicious, Renee, then I know it must be! Thank you for the foodie education and for sharing!
    xo
    Roz

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's regional to the Ohio, PA, and WV areas I think. I hope you give it a try.

      Delete
  19. Great recipe. In the Pennsylvania Coal Region we used a combination of pork, beef and veal. I can not wait to try this recipe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've definitely heard of the mixed meat variation. I've always had it with just pork, but I need to try it with the three meats sometime. Thanks for dropping by!

      Delete
    2. In Poland/Ukraine it's called "PATYCHKI" and is traditionally made with pork (roast, not tenderloin) and veal (I like to use the shinbone meat, because it's tender, tasty and juicy.) HERB-not Italian-breadcrumbs are used in Northeastern Pennsylvania, along with paprika-sweet/Hungarian: ancient Hungarian/Turkish trade routes? Next time, smoked paprika. THANKS!!

      Delete
  20. I grew up in Cleveland Ohio my mother was a wonderful cook and from north Pa. She made this dish when I was growing up and I always loved it.I am 75 and in my younger years made it for my family. So excited to see this article and read your post. My parents passed away in their 90's and I made this for them one Sunday after church. My Dad was thrilled. I made it with a combination of pork and veal. A long time ago it was not so expensive but it is now. Thank you so much for your blog and the ideas. My daughter in law is a blogger and fun to share with these ideas of yours as she is from the north east. I have kept your post to read and re read . Every time I ask people if they have heard of City Chicken they just look at me blankly.Thank you so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment! I am so honored to have revoked such wonderful memories for you!

      Delete
  21. Just made these tonight. I have been making (and eating) city chicken my whole life, and this was the best ever

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. It's one of my family's favorite dinners!

      Delete
  22. City Chicken,I just love it, it's one of the best meats ever. My mom used the crushed saltine crackers instead of breadcrumbs. I am going to try the breadcrumbs tonight, I can't wait, it's been to many years since I've had City Chicken. Thanks for the recipe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as the one your mom used to make. It sure is one of our favorite comfort meals.

      Delete
    2. In the process of moving recently, I spotted my mother's old electric frying pan in my stuff (square, olive green) and fond memories of fried pork chops and city chicken flooded back into memory. Growing up in Detroit in the 70's, we had City Chicken often - mostly with beef chunks, pork, actual chicken, and sometimes veal on short, thick skewers.

      Mashed potatoes and gravy and boiled green beans for sides... Mmmm

      By the way, this is not a Midwestern specialty, so it's no wonder you've not heard of it in Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, or elsewhere - it's indigenous to the Great Lakes region (lower Michigan, upper Ohio, eastern Pennsylvania, eastern new York, and upper West Virginia).

      After spending a decade in California, where they've never heard of green bean casserole, (!), my dinner partner for tomorrow is in for a treat, even though veal is hard to come by here in mid-Missouri (I happened upon a slice the other day).

      City Chicken, GBC, mash & gravy... she's from Florida. :)

      Delete
    3. Love this story! Thanks for sharing and thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  23. My grandma used to make city chicken...I make it too using pork...but, if I remember correctly she also used veal in hers?...either way, they are sooooooooo good!...thanks for sharing your recipe...going to try the Italian bread crumb mixture...I've only used the plain ones in mine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi thanks so much for stopping by. Yes, I've seen recipes with a combination of meats. I think anyway you make it, city chicken is pure comfort food at it's best.

      Delete
    2. Try the HERB breadcrumbs, with poultry seasoning (parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme.) Mix SMOKED paprika and WHITE pepper into the flour. All these combine to trick your "tastebuds" (really just your sense of smell) into believing it's chicken. If you've got a rosemary shrub, cut a green (6") branch & snuggle it down into the baking pan before covering. Neighbors will come knocking. Hahaha.

      Delete
    3. Sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing!

      Delete
  24. I’m from the UP of Michigan where this has been popular for decades. My mother made it with pork and veal and our supermarket sells it with pork and beef already on the skewers. We also use crushed saltines.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by and sharing that! Yes, we can buy it with the sticks already in the package. I know several local friends that make it with a mixture of pork and veal like your Mother did. Love the idea of using crushed saltines to coat!

      Delete

Thank you for visiting! Share what's on your mind and make my day! Make this recipe? I'd love to hear how it turned out for you! Share on social media with #RKArecipes

>