Showing posts with label mock drumsticks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mock drumsticks. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Why City Chicken has No Chicken: A New Look at a Century-Old Recipe by Cleo Coyle

Behold the "mock drumstick" of our (baked not fried)
City Chicken, smothered in a delicious pan gravy.
A century-old recipe bringing comfort food joy...


One hundred years ago, when you couldn't afford real chicken, "City Chicken" was a tasty alternative, a way to enjoy mock fried chicken drumsticks using meat scraps (pork, beef, veal) from the butcher. 

Different regions have their own take on this dish. Some deep fry the mock drumsticks, others have no breading. My 
husband's mother prepared it, "Pittsburgh style"breaded, sautéed, baked, and served with pan gravy, which is the very recipe I'm sharing with you today. 

Our longtime followers may recall my sharing this recipe a few years ago. I thought it would be fun to share again for our new followers and readers. AND since my husband (and partner in crime writing) has been craving it lately, I thought it was about time I aided and abetted his desire to...

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo



Cleo Coyle has a partner in 
crime writing—her husband. 
Learn about their books
by clicking here and here.
Cleo Coyle's
City Chicken


So why is it called City Chicken?

During the Depression, when this mock chicken dish really took off, 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. In other words, city-dwellers were the ones making it because chicken was too expensive to eat.

And how does it taste?

Incredibly good. Marc and I grew up just outside of Pittsburgh, where the dish has been popular for years. Wednesdays were City Chicken night at my husband's house, where his mom served her hearty mock drumsticks with string beans and mashed potatoes—to soak up all that good pan gravy. 

For years, many of the grocery stores in the Pittsburgh area sold "City Chicken" packs of pork pieces with skewers included. Wikipedia's entry on City Chicken even features a picture of one of these Pittsburgh packs. (See Wiki photo at left.)

Here in New York, where we've lived for decades, we've never seen "City Chicken" packs—ironic since it's the biggest city in the country! But, hey, that's okay. Marc and I don’t need those packs. And neither do you. Just look for packages of boneless pork and/or veal pieces (usually marked for stew, see my pictures below), follow our recipe, and you’re all set to make your very own Pittsburgh-style comfort food.






To download a PDF copy 
of this retro recipe that
you can print, save, 
or share, click here.



Cleo Coyle's
City Chicken Recipe



Makes six servings
INGREDIENTS:

- 6 six-inch wooden skewers (in a pinch, simply cut down longer skewers)

- 3 pounds of meat cubes (we use):
    1-½ pounds boneless pork pieces (or "stew meat") +
    1-½ pounds veal pieces (or "stew meat")


- 1 cup all-purpose flour

- 1 cup seasoned bread 
crumbs (we use Italian seasoned)

- 2 large eggs (beaten with fork)

- 1 tablespoon milk (or water) to make the "egg wash" for breading

- 1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped 

- 1/4 cup vegetable oil 

- 2 Tablespoons butter 

- 2/3 cup chicken or veg stock

- Salt and pepper to taste

- 1 tablespoon (or so) Wondra flour or cornstarch


DIRECTIONS:

Note: If you bought "stew meat" packages as shown above, you should be ready to go. If you can't find stew meat, purchase pork loin chops and/or veal steaks and cut them into small pieces ( about 1- to 1-1/2 inches in size). 

Step 1: Prepare the Meat - Arrange the meat pieces on each of the six skewers. If using more than one type, alternate them (pork, veal, pork, veal, etc...) Fit the pieces together tightly to create a mock chicken drumstick. Dredge each of the mock drumsticks in flour, then in the egg wash (2 eggs beaten with 1 T. milk or water), and finally coat generously with the seasoned bread crumbs.




Step 2: Brown the meat – Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. While oven is heating, place the vegetable oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. When this shallow oil is hot enough to ripple, add 1 tablespoon of butter and allow it to melt. Sauté the mock drumsticks about five minutes in the hot oil, turning often, until the outsides are golden brown. Remove the mock drumsticks from the pan and set them aside on a holding plate. Turn the heat to low.

Step 3: Sauté the onions – Add the chopped onion to the hot oil, along with about 1 tablespoon butter. Cook and stir over the low heat until the onions are brown, about five minutes. Now return the mock drumsticks to the pan (along with any drippings that may have accumulated on the holding plate). Cook them only for another minute or two.


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...



Over low heat, whisk the Wondra flour (or cornstarch) into the liquid. If you like, you can stir a bit of butter into the gravy for richness, as well, although it's not a necessity. Simmer for a minute or two, whisking in more flour or cornstarch until the gravy thickens to your liking. Then plate the mock drumsticks, spoon the gravy over them, as shown, and...





Eat (and read) with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of  
The Coffeehouse Mysteries


Friend me on facebook here. * Follow me on twitter here
Learn about my books here


* * *


Our Newest Mystery is
a Bestselling Hardcover!



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A "Most Wanted" Mystery Guild Selection
A Baker & Taylor Trends Pick
Three "Best of Year" Reviewer Lists


Dead to the Last Drop 
is a culinary mystery with 
more than 25 delicious recipes!

See the free illustrated 
Recipe Guide by clicking here.



*  *  *



The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
15 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 


GET A FREE TITLE CHECKLIST
OF BOOKS IN ORDER

(with mini plot summaries)


* * * 


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The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

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Or learn more about the 
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our PI ghost by clicking here.



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Why City Chicken has no chicken: A new look at a century-old recipe by Cleo Coyle





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.

But first a bit of fun...

Do you remember the scene below 
in the biopic JULIE AND JULIA?

Julia Child is excited to meet the famous cookbook author Irma Rombauer, who wrote Joy of Cooking, and Irma tells Julia about her horrific publishing experience...


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!



How do "mock drumsticks" taste?

Incredibly good. City Chicken is a delicious way to cook pork. It's a relatively healthy entree, too, because pork is a white meat, and (in our Pittsburgh-style version) it's baked and not deep fried. 

Growing up just outside of Pittsburgh, Marc and I ate City Chicken regularly. Marc's mother actually made Wednesdays City Chicken night and served her hearty mock drumsticks with string beans and mashed potatoes—to soak up all that good pan gravy. Now if that's not a down-home comfort-food dinner, I don't know what is.

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.)

Ironically, though I now live in New York, the biggest city in the country, I cannot find "City Chicken" packs. Hey, that's okay. Marc and I don’t need them. And neither do you. Just look for packages of boneless pork and/or veal pieces (usually marked for stew), follow our recipe, and you’re all set to…

Cook with joy! 

Cleo Coyle's
City Chicken Recipe

To download a PDF copy of this recipe that you can print, save, or share, click here. 





Cleo Coyle, maker of mock
drumsticks, is author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries
So why do we call it "chicken," 
when no chicken is in it?

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...




Makes six servings
 
INGREDIENTS:

- 6 six-inch wooden skewers (in a pinch, simply cut down longer skewers)

- 3 pounds of meat cubes (we use):
    1-½ pounds boneless pork pieces (or "stew meat") +
    1-½ pounds veal pieces (or "stew meat")

- 1 cup all-purpose flour


- 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs (we use Italian seasoned)

- 2 large eggs (beaten with fork)


- 1 tablespoon milk (or water) to thin the beaten eggs, making an "egg wash" for breading

- 1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped 

- ¼ cup vegetable oil 

- 2 Tablespoons butter 

- 2/3 cup chicken or veg stock

- Salt and pepper to taste

- 1 tablespoon (or so) Wondra flour or cornstarch

DIRECTIONS:

Note: If you bought "stew meat" packages as shown above, you should be ready to go. If you can't find stew meat, purchase pork loin chops and/or veal steaks and cut them into small pieces ( about 1- to 1-1/2 inches in size). 

Step 1: Prepare the Meat - Arrange the meat pieces on each of the six skewers. If using more than one type, alternate them (pork, veal, pork, veal, etc...) Fit the pieces together tightly to create a mock chicken drumstick. Dredge each of the mock drumsticks in flour, then in egg wash (2 eggs beaten with 1 T. milk or water), and finally coat generously with the seasoned bread crumbs.




Step 2: Brown the meat – Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. While oven is heating, place the vegetable oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. When this shallow oil is hot enough to ripple, add 1 tablespoon of butter and allow it to melt. Sauté the mock drumsticks about five minutes in the hot oil, turning often, until the outsides are golden brown. Remove the mock drumsticks from the pan and set them aside on a holding plate. Turn the heat to low.

Step 3: Sauté the onions – Add the chopped onion to the hot oil, along with about 1 tablespoon butter. Cook and stir over the low heat until the onions are brown, about five minutes. Now return the mock drumsticks to the pan (along with any drippings that may have accumulated on the holding plate). Cook them only for another minute or two.


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...



Over low heat, whisk the Wondra flour (or cornstarch) into the liquid. If you like, you can stir a bit of butter into the gravy for richness, as well, although it's not a necessity. Simmer for a minute or two, whisking in more flour or cornstarch until the gravy thickens to your liking. Then plate the mock drumsticks, spoon the gravy over them, as shown, and...



Eat with joy!
~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries


Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.




The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 
To learn more, click here. 
 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure


Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
Mysteries
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here