City chicken might not taste exactly like a country-fried chicken, but trust me, it’s just as addictive.
Ever heard of city chicken? If you haven’t, you’re in for a treat.
Don’t be fooled by its name! While they look a little bit similar, city chicken and fried chicken are nowhere near the same.
But don’t worry, city chicken is equally delicious and impossible to resist.
Dying to find out what this dish truly is? Let’s begin!
Contrary to its name, city chicken is a dish made of battered and deep-fried pork cutlets.
A Polish-American recipe that originated in Pittsburgh and Cleveland, this dish goes all the way back to the Depression Era.
What Exactly Is City Chicken?
Also called mock chicken, city chicken does not contain an ounce of chicken in it. Instead, it’s a battered deep-fried dish made of… wait for it… pork.
Cubes of pork are threaded into skewers, seasoned, dredged in eggs and bread crumbs, flash-fried, and baked.
The result is a beautifully golden treat that, if you maybe squint your eyes, looks somewhat like a fried chicken leg.
Why Do They Call It City Chicken?
During the Depression Era, many immigrants moved to big cities where job opportunities were abundant.
With the lack of rural farms nearby, there was a scarcity of fresh meat in the cities. During this time, mass-produced frozen meat was yet to be a thing.
Since fresh chicken was hard to come by and super expensive, people turned to much more affordable pork and veal scraps to imitate the protein.
The scraps looked nowhere near as appetizing, so they decided to thread them onto skewers, coat them in batter, and deep-fry until golden.
The resulting dish is the glorious city chicken we now all know and love.
Tips for Making The Best Chicken
- Use shallow bowls for the egg mixture and bread crumbs so you can easily roll the skewers in.
- Use 4 to 6 inches of wooden skewers. Don’t use toothpicks, as they’re too short. Also, don’t attempt to use wooden skewers broken in half – these are prone to splintering.
- Soak the skewers in cold water for 15 minutes beforehand to keep them from burning while cooking.
- Dredge the meat skewers in flour first to prevent the bread crumbs from falling off. Dip the skewers in the egg mixture first, followed by the flour. Repeat the step to double coat the skewers, then finally, dip them in bread crumbs.
- The recipe calls for pork, but classic city chicken also sometimes contains veal. Feel free to use either or both.
- For tender and juicy city chicken, pork chops are the best cut.
- Other proteins will also work, such as chicken breasts, thighs, and tenderloin.
- For more flavor, toss the meat with a blend of salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, and chili powder.
- Instead of bread crumbs, you can also use crushed Ritz crackers for more flavor.
- For a low-carb alternative, use a blend of almond flour and parmesan cheese instead of bread crumbs. Some also use crushed pork rind.
- The recipe involves flash-frying the pork, a technique that results in a ridiculously crispy and crunchy outer coating. The point is to submerge the meat in very hot oil for a short period to create a crunchy sear on the crust. That said, don’t go beyond 6 minutes, and stop as soon as all the sides are golden – no need to cook the meat all the way through.
- The water underneath the skewers helps the crumb coating stay crispy while cooking the meat inside. Instead of this water bath technique, an easier approach is to bake the meat skewers on a lightly greased cookie sheet for 15 minutes on each side.
What to Serve with City Chicken?
City chicken makes for a delicious entree no matter the occasion. Pair this delectable dish with any of these sides for a substantial and satisfying meal.
Just like other battered and deep-fried meats, it’s nice to pair city chicken with something light and refreshing to counterbalance the richness.
If you’re serving city salad on its own as an appetizer or snack, don’t forget about the dipping sauces! The classic ketchup won’t disappoint.
For a sweet contrast, dip it in honey mustard or BBQ sauce. Something creamy such as ranch or aioli will also make the finger food an even bigger hit.
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