My mom’s city chicken recipe was a family favorite growing up. It’s an easy to make weeknight meal. The crazy thing is that it doesn’t have any chicken in it! Check out the comments for other peoples comments on their family’s city chicken recipes.
You might also like my low carb city chicken in the air fryer!
I grew up eating city chicken a lot as a child and never once did I wonder why it was called that seeing as there’s no chicken involved. Recently my father in law, who used to be a butcher, explained this mock chicken to me.
City chicken is one of his favorite dishes so I wanted to make this regional meal for him and thought I’d share it with you because it’s easy and tasty!
What is city chicken?
My father in law went on to say that back his day fresh chicken was more expensive than pork and veal in grocery stores. So people made city chicken which is essentially cubes of pork and veal on a stick that is breaded to act as a fried chicken leg or chicken drumstick.
It’s a regional dish and very popular here in Pittsburgh. And from my readers comments below, it is also very popular Ohio, Michigan and parts of New York. To learn more, check out this article about city chicken.
What type of meat to use?
Classic city chicken is usually made with a mixture of lean pork and veal and not chicken. However sometimes I just use pork because it’s cheaper and easier to find. Today I stopped by a great local butcher, Lampert’s, that my friend had told me about. They had great cuts of meat and lots of delicious looking prepared food.
And there in the case was city chicken already cut and placed on wooden skewers as you can see below.
Many grocers in the area carry city chicken packs with skewers made up of a combination of pork and veal cubes ready for you to assemble.
If your grocer does not carry these, do not despair. Just find some wooden skewers and a nice piece of boneless pork and/or veal and cut it into pork cubes yourself.
Sometimes I just use boneless country pork ribs and since they are already cut into thick strips it’s very easy to cut them into cubes.
How to make city chicken.
You can make this dish many different ways but my mom makes it like this:
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the cubes of meat on the wooden skewers.
Step 2: Get out a shallow dish for the beat egg and one for the breading (dry bread crumbs, paprika and parmesan cheese). Dip the city chicken skewers in a beaten egg mixture or egg wash and then the seasoned bread crumbs. Do this with all of the skewers and place on plate and season with salt and black pepper on both sides.
Step 3: Get out a large skillet like a cast iron skillet so you can place it in the oven as well. Or if you don’t have an oven safe skillet, you can also use a baking dish in the next step.
Add the vegetable oil and heat to medium high heat. When the oil is sizzling turn down the heat to medium and brown both sides of the city chicken skewers. This should take just about 2-3 minutes per side.
Step 4: Finally transfer the skillet to the oven and bake them for 20-25 minutes until they are cooked through. The internal temperature should be at least 145°F.
If you don’t have an oven safe skillet, you can transfer the browned meat skewers to a pyrex baking dish and then bake them. Make sure to spray the dish with cooking spray first.
Step 5: You can use the same skillet with the brown bits to make a brown gravy if you want. We usually don’t use gravy but many people do. (Please scroll down to view the printable recipe card.)
If you read the comments below you will see LOTS of ways other people make city chicken and hear about some of their fond memories of this delicious dish.
The final result is tender and juicy city chicken. I have made a bit of gravy at the end with the pan drippings but my mother never really did and my father in law doesn’t like it that way so normally I would not bother to do that.
Low carb version and how to make city chicken in the air fryer.
Because I am mostly a low carb blogger I of course had to make a gluten free, low carb version that you can see below. The breading is made with a blend of almond flour and a few other ingredients. You can see it pictured below.
I made it in the air fryer and it was fantastic. My family liked it just as much as my mom’s recipe. If you are on a low carb or gluten free diet this might be a good recipe to check out.
- To make this recipe in the air fryer prepare the skewers as above. Preheat the air fryer for 5 minutes then spray the basket with nonstick cooking spray.
- Place the skewers in the basket and spray those with cooking spray too.
- Cook in the air fryer at 390°F for 12-15 minutes until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 145°F. You can flip them half way as well if you want.
As they say, pork is the other white meat. You can see above how it does look like breaded chicken. And there you have my mom’s recipe for city chicken.
It is a nice and easy weekday meal that I’m sure your family will love. At least that’s how we do it in the ‘burgh and it’s nostalgic comfort food for us. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
How to make city chicken low carb or gluten free?
I have a low carb recipe here but basically you just use a combination of almond flour, parmesan cheese and spice. You can also try crushed pork rinds for the breading.
Where can I buy the wooden skewers or sticks?
Many grocery stores will have the sticks but you can also try Asian grocery stores or they are on Amazon.
What kind of meat is best for city chicken?
It was originally made from pork and veal but I just use pork because it’s easier to find and less expensive. I like to use boneless pork loin country ribs.
What to serve with city chicken?
Plenty of people make a gravy with the pan drippings and serve with mashed potatoes. Really you would treat this as any meat main dish. We eat it with a hearty side dish like mashed potatoes and green beans.
PS Please read through the comments below. I guess this dish is a beloved recipe of people in this area and many people have variations on the recipe that you may remember or enjoy. And if you have any questions, please just ask.
- 1 ½ lbs city chicken (pork or veal pieces cut into cubes)
- salt and pepper
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup chicken stock, broth or water
- 1-2 tablespoons flour
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Add your eggs to a shallow bowl and beat
- In a separate bowl add your breadcrumbs, paprika and Parmesan cheese.
- If your pork and veal are not already placed on skewers, do so by alternating pork and veal pieces.
- Sprinkle the chunks of meat with salt and pepper.
- Dip the skewered meat in the egg and then the bread crumbs. Set aside and finish the rest of the meat.
- Heat your skillet to medium high and once hot, add your oil.
- Once the oil is hot, place your meat in the pan and turn the skillet down to medium. Brown skewered meat on all sides. About 2-3 minutes on each side.
- Once the meat is browned, place in a baking dish and cover with aluminum.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the pork is no longer pink inside.
- To make the gravy turn the skillet on to medium heat.
- Add the broth or water to the skillet and break up all the browned bits.
- Add the flour a little at a time and whisk well so there are no lumps.
- Pour over cooked meat. (this did not make much gravy for me but it was tasty.)
Nutrition Information:Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1 skewer
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 593Unsaturated Fat: 0g