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City Chicken is actually a pork and veal dish. It's said to date back to the 1930s in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as a substitute recipe for chicken which was more expensive at the time. Cubes of veal and pork are coated, skewered and browned before being simmered in an herb flavored sauce. The completed mock chicken dish may be served over mashed potatoes, noodles or rice.
Pork and veal cubes are often coated, or dredged, in flour as well as dipped in beaten egg. Alternatively, some cooks prefer to use breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs rather than flour. The dipped and dredged meat cubes are then threaded onto wooden skewers and browned in heated oil in a frying pan, or skillet. The next step in making a basic City Chicken recipe is to create a sauce for which to simmer the skewered, browned meats until they're cooked through.
In the frying pan that the veal and pork skewers were browned in, chicken broth as well as herbs such as dried thyme and bay leaf are added. As the seasoned liquid simmers, any browned bits of meat or breading that had stuck to the pan can become lifted and blended into the sauce to add more flavor. Salt, pepper and garlic powder are also typically used to flavor the sauce. Cornstarch or flour mixed smoothly into a little water may be added near the end of cooking time to make a City Chicken sauce thick enough to spoon over the cooked meat as well as hot rice, noodles or mashed potatoes.
The pork and veal are skewered onto wooden sticks to make them look similar to chicken drumsticks. The chicken broth used in the sauce adds the flavor of chicken to the other meats. Some cooks who make City Chicken like to create a creamier sauce by adding cream of mushroom soup. Sauteed mushrooms as well as onions could also be added to the sauce.
If the cooked meats are removed from the skewers and placed onto bread slices before pouring on the creamy sauce, this open faced, hot sandwich version of the recipe may be eaten using a knife and fork. Otherwise the wooden skewers of meat may top mashed potatoes, rice or noodles that already have the sauce poured on them. City Chicken served with starch or grains plus a side salad or cooked vegetable can make a delicious, hearty and nutritious meal.
I haven't had city chicken in years. When I was a boy in Ohio, the local grocery store meat departments actually sold city chicken cubes on skewers. I don't remember dredging it in flour, but I did pan fry it in a generous amount of butter or margarine. I'd use seasoned salt for spice.
The best part of city chicken was the texture of the meat after it was fried to a crisp. It was more tender than some other cuts of pork. I can see why it would pass as a chicken substitute.
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