Like "Chicken Fried" Steak, "City Chicken" is a delicious comfort food that makes use of the word chicken in the title but not in the recipe. So exactly what is City Chicken?
Well, if you take a six-inch wooden skewer, load it up with scraps of pork and/or veal, and dip it in flour, egg, and breading, you're on the right track. A good pan gravy should be made during the process, and in the recipe below, I’ll show you how I and my husband (and partner in crime writing) do ours. There are many variations, based on region. We do ours Pittsburgh style.
“The index is a complete calamity!”
Irma declared. “If you’re looking for
City Chicken, you’re not going
to find it under C. It’s under
as Irma Rombauer in JULIE AND JULIA,
Here's an even greater calamity (in my opinion): My 7th edition (1997) JOY OF COOKING did not include the recipe! As noted above, City Chicken was included in earlier versions, and I'm happy to prove it from a photo of the page in my own well-worn copy of the 5th edition (the comb-ring bound version, which is over 40 years old now). If any of you have the 8th edition, you can check for the recipe in your index of "Joy Classics," to see if it's made a reappearance there!
City Chicken is such a popular dish in the Pittsburgh area that some groceries sell "City Chicken" packs of pork pieces with skewers included. Wikipedia has an entry on City Chicken that actually features a picture of one of these Pittsburgh packs. (See Wiki photo at right.)
Cook with joy!
|Cleo Coyle, maker of mock|
drumsticks, is author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries
Short answer: When you couldn't afford real chicken, City Chicken was an alternative--a way to enjoy mock fried chicken drumsticks using scraps from the butcher.
Where does the "city" part come in?
Although published recipes for "mock chicken," were found as far back as one hundred years ago, City Chicken really took off during the Depression, when fatty trimmings and meat scraps of pork, beef, and veal were less expensive than chicken, especially in urban areas that were far from poultry farms.
And there you have it--the name explained.
As I noted above, there are many regional variations of the dish. Some are deep fried, others have no breading. The recipe we’re sharing today was how Marc's mother prepared it, and therefore made "Pittsburgh style," which means it will be breaded, sautéed, and baked. We just love it this way, and hope you will, too...
1-½ pounds boneless pork pieces (or "stew meat") +
1-½ pounds veal pieces (or "stew meat")
Step 4: Bake in the oven – Add ½ cup chicken or vegetable stock to the skillet, cover with a lid, and bake in the preheated oven for about 50 minutes, or until the meat is tender.
Step 5: Make the gravy - The onions and stock create a nice gravy as the meat cooks. While you can spoon this thin gravy over the mock drumsticks as is, we prefer to thicken it. To do this, you'll need to remove all of the mock drumsticks from the pan while leaving the liquid in there...
Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice).
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|To view the|
book trailer, click here.