Growing up outside of Cleveland to the east (Mantua), we made regular trips to the West Side Market. One of our favorite dinner treats we would bring home was City Chicken. My mom would fry it up on the stove first and then smoother it in a creamy mushroom sauce. But is this dish really?
Dating back to the turn of the previous century, City Chicken, a Polish-American recipe, has roots in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Cleveland, Ohio and spread to Great Lakes cities such as Detroit, Michigan and Buffalo, New York. Nostalgic comfort food from the Rust Belt.
Made of small bits of meat, usually pork and veal because during the Great Depression, they were less expensive than chicken. The meat used was often scraps, placed on a wooden skewer and formed to resemble a chicken leg. It was breaded and fried and/or baked.
Like most recipes, there are many variations (such as the one I found here from the blog The Polish Housewife). You have many cooking options: deep fry, pan fry, fry and then bake to finish, or just bake. Some like to serve City Chicken with some kind of gravy, The Polish Housewife did as my mom, served it with a mushroom sauce.
Here is The Polish Housewife's Recipe for City Chicken
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 min
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: serves 4 - 6 1x
- Category: Meat
- Method: fried
- Cuisine: Polish
- 1 1/2 pound pork, cut into 1 – 1 1/2 inch cubes
- Seasoning salt (another indicator that this Polish-American rather than Polish)
- wooden skewers
- flour, for dredging
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoon water
- 2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
- Oil for frying
- Preheat the oven to 350
- Season pork with seasoning salt, and thread onto 4 inch skewers
- Set up three bowls or plates with rims in a row (fill one with flour, one with the eggs, and the last with breadcrumbs)
- Roll the pork skewers in flour, dip in the eggs coating all side, roll in the bread crumbs
- Heat oil to 350, even brown the pork skewers in the hot oil
- Place the skewers in a baking dish and cover with foil, bake for about 20 minutes, then remove foil and bake uncovered for 5 minutes to crisp breading
If you have a wire rack that fits in your baking dish, you might use it and add a little water to the bottom of your dish to steam your chicken city and keep it moist as it bakes.
Another possibility is to place the skewers on top of crumbled foil (to keep it out of the water) or on top of vegetables that you’re roasting at the same time. Because the “chicken legs” are only in the oven for 20 minutes or so, the vegetables will 1. need to be in thin pieces to cook during that time, 2. or they will be al dente, 3. or you could bake the veg a bit before or after the meat.