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Mar 17, 2008 04:50 PM

Anyone remember "city chicken"?

In the early sixties in Pittsburgh, it would be for sale in the meat section, little chunks of meat (usually veal I think) on little wooden skewers that I think my mother floured and fried. My memory is rusty on this and I would love to recreate it. Can anyone help me out?

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  1. our city chicken is made with pork, cut in cubes and on smallish sticks. I usually season it liberally and let it sit overnight. I dip it in milk and egg, bread crumb, fry and then bake in the oven really slow.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chelleyd01

      Not pork - veal! Looked like pork, and I daresay you could substitute poirk, givern veal's price and lgeneral unavailability these days. floured, egg/milk, bread crumbs maybe - I'd probably use panko today. Sauteed, not baked - tiny cubes will toughen up quickly in a hot oven. Sour cream-mushroom-marsala sauce would be nice.

      1. re: Alice Letseat

        Given prices, maybe it should be made with chicken and called "city veal" now?

        I'm intrigued by the source of the name, transportation and refrigeration issues for chicken? Lord knows they're about the easiest things to raise, just noisy. I know my mother spent summers on a relative's farm in the WWII era and the sunday chicken was a treat not often found in town.

    2. Your description reminds me of something we had as kids in the late 50s, called mock drumsticks. They were shaped like a drumstick, breaded and on a wooden stick. I remember as a kid just loving them and thinking it was a special treat. I just talked to my mother and asked her about it. She remembers them but doesn't remember making them for us, but I know she did. When I did a google search for "mock drumsticks" I came up with this link:

      This refers to an article in the early 2000s in the Philadelphia Inquirer that talked about city chicken. It sounds like city chicken and mock drumsticks were made from veal and maybe pork at an earlier time (like around or just after WWII) when chicken was actually more expensive than veal. Hence the names, "city chicken" and "mock drumsticks." I am suspecting that these are closely related if not the same thing.

      You might want to track down the Philadelphia Inquirer article. Sounds like it (together with the link above) will have more background for you.

      1. Here’s a recipe from a website dedicated to the coal regions of Pennsylvania. The “coalspeak” section (bottom of page) is a hoot

        1. standard picnic fare in the se michigan area during the '70s. loved it! our version had veal & pork cubes. small batches were sauteed/fried, large picnic-size batches were baked.

          ah... the nostalgia cravings have set in. guess i'm planning a picnic for the next nice weekend.