City Chicken

pork skewers on a white platter with gravy on top

Dinner | November 5, 2019 | By

City Chicken ~ cubes of pork skewered, breaded and baked until tender. Serve with mashed potatoes and gravy. This recipe is old fashioned, Midwest comfort at its finest.

We met my brother-in-law and sister-in-law a few weeks ago for dinner at a local Polish restaurant. My brother-in-law ordered City Chicken and gave us each a taste. It was really good: mouth-watering, food envy good.

It dawned on me I hadn’t made it in a long time and with cooler temps here and the holidays coming, it’s the ideal recipe to share with family.

What is City Chicken?

First off, it’s not chicken. City Chicken is actually pork (or pork and veal combo) cubed and skewered on wooden sticks. You may have seen it called mock chicken. It’s been served up on family tables for generations.

City Chicken is known as a Polish dish, but it’s not actually from Poland. It’s said the dish originated here in American during the depression era in the Midwest (Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cleveland) when chicken was actually more expensive than pork.

Immigrants wanted to replicate the taste of chicken so they breaded and fried (or baked) pork and veal because they were more affordable and skewered them to resemble a chicken leg. Because of the price of veal today, City Chicken is usually made with just pork. 

What do I need to make City Chicken?

  • lean pork (tenderloin used) cut in 1 1/2″ cubes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • eggs
  • seasoned breadcrumbs
  • oil for frying (canola used)
  • wooden skewers (5-6″ in length)
  • chicken stock

The meat counter at your local grocery store or meat market usually has wooden skewers. Mine gives them away at no charge when I buy the meat there.

How much oil do I add to the skillet?

Skillet sizes vary, but you’ll want 1/4 – 1/2″ of oil in the bottom of the skillet. I recommend canola or vegetable (not olive oil) because both can withstand higher heat.

How to know if the oil is ready for frying:

Drop a couple of breadcrumbs into the oil before adding the skewers. If they sink, the oil isn’t hot enough but if they burns up right away, the oil is too hot. You want to see them bubble and float to the top meaning the oil is just right and ready for frying.

How to make City Chicken:

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Cut the pork into 1 1/2″ cubes then add several pieces of meat to the skewers (usually 4-5 pieces fit allowing a section of the skewer at the base for handling). Season with salt and pepper.

Set up a dredging station: beaten eggs in one bowl, seasoned breadcrumbs in another. 

Roll the pork skewers in the egg then dredge in the breadcrumbs, rolling to coat on all sides and ends.

Add the oil to a large skillet then heat the oil to about 350°.

Add the skewers to the hot oil turning to lightly brown on all sides. Work in batches if necessary so you don’t crowd the skillet. 

Transfer the City Chicken to a shallow baking dish leaving space between them, then pour the chicken stock between the skewers. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes. Don’t wash the skillet if you’re making gravy. See below. 

Uncover and continue baking 10 minutes more to crisp the breading.

We love this City Chicken with creamy mashed potatoes and gravy, a vegetable and even a little applesauce

black plate with city chicken and mashed potatoes covered in gravy plus a side of green peas

How to make gravy:

You can use jar or canned gravy but if you’ve never made homemade or need a refresher, pour a glass of white wine (the kind you’ll be using in the gravy) and see how easy it is. 

We eat a lot of gravy in our house – probably more than most people so while I wouldn’t call myself a Gravy Expert, I certainly do know a thing or two about it.  Gravy is made from pan drippings from any roasted meat or poultry. 

Tips:

#1: Wine adds a nice depth of flavor but if you’re adverse, add more stock. 

#2: Whisk continuously as you’re adding in the stock so your gravy isn’t lumpy.

#3: A light splash of soy sauce heightens the flavor without giving it an Asian taste.

What you need to make gravy:

  • Pan drippings (from when you browned the City Chicken)
  • 1/4 cup white wine (Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc/not sweet wine)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

Set the same skillet you browned the skewers to medium heat. Once it’s hot, pour in the wine and scrape any browned bits stuck to the bottom while the wine reduces. 

Reduce the heat to medium low then add the butter to the skillet and once it’s melted, fold in the flour stirring frequently. Cook 1 minute.

Slowly pour in the chicken stock and finely minced thyme, continuously whisking then cook 5-7 minutes or until the gravy is smooth and thickened.

Add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, continue simmering 2-3 minutes then taste the gravy and season with salt and pepper as desired.

Enjoy!

If you tried this City Chicken recipe or any other on the blog then I’d love to hear from you with a comment or star rating!

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City Chicken

Baked breaded pork skewers. Sometimes called mock chicken; a Midwest comfort classic.
PIN for later!
Print Recipe
CourseMain Course
CuisineEuropean
Keywordcity chicken, baked city chicken, mock chicken
Prep Time1 hour
Servings4

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds pork cut in 1 1/2" cubes (tenderloin used)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
  • oil for frying canola or vegetable (1/4 to 1/2" in bottom of skillet
  • 6-8 5-6" wooden skewers
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Cut the pork into 1 1/2″ cubes then add several pieces of meat to the skewer (usually 4-5 pieces fit allowing a section of the skewer at the base for handling). Season the city chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Set up a dredging station: beaten eggs in one bowl, seasoned breadcrumbs in another. 
  • Roll the pork skewers in the egg then dredge in the breadcrumbs, rolling to coat on all sides and ends.
  • Add the oil to a large skillet then heat the oil to about 350°. Add the skewers to the hot oil turning to lightly brown on all sides. Work in batches if necessary so you don’t crowd the skillet. 
  • Transfer the City Chicken to a shallow baking dish then pour the chicken stock between the skewers. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes. Do not wash the skillet if you’re making gravy. (See body of post for how to make gravy).
  • Uncover and continue baking 10 minutes more to crisp the breading.

Comments

  1. Leave a Reply

    Anna Salvatore
    November 6, 2019

    I’ve never heard of City Chicken and it looks so yummy! Love your detailed instructions!

    • Leave a Reply

      Bernie
      November 7, 2019

      Hey Anna – thank you so much! It’s a Midwestern classic. We really love it + the story about how it got started.

  2. Leave a Reply

    Bette
    November 7, 2019

    Wow does this look yummy! Takes me back to my Mom and yes we would have city chicken but only on “special” occasions. Great recipe idea! You rock.

    • Leave a Reply

      Bernie
      November 7, 2019

      Hi Bette – thank you!! Awwww – what a great memory. I love reading that. 🙂 xo

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