Sunday, November 14, 2010

City Chicken

This Pittsburgh favorite is a meal-time-machine back into the 1930s. Imagine yourself feasting with the family at the table set with Fiesta - kind of like Ralphie in A Christmas Story. On the place is budget-friendly home cooked food like mashed potatoes, canned peas and chicken with gravy. Wait, chicken is too expensive. Make that city chicken, chunks of pork or veal arranged on a stick to resemble that expensive chicken leg.

It's hard to believe that at one time, chicken was more costly than veal or pork and was saved for that special Sunday night dinner. City chicken is best known in the big cities of Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during the Depression. You can still find packages of pork and veal with sticks sold as "city chicken" at the butcher shop. It is delicious, and even tastes a bit like chicken. But then, that's what everyone says about all unusual food, right?

City Chicken
2 pounds veal or pork (or both) cut into two inch chunks
3/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
3/4 cup stone ground whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cups canola oil
2 tablespoons arrowroot (or cornstarch)

Beat eggs and milk and place in a small tray or bowl. Combine flour, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, paprika and set aside in another small tray or bowl. Place four or five chunks of pork or veal, or alternating chunks of both on a stick. Dip stick into egg mixture, then roll in breadcrumbs until well coated. When all sticks are coated with breadcrumbs,  place on a dish and cover with foil and set in the refrigerator for at least one hour to allow the breading to set. Preheat oven to 350F. Add canola oil to a hot skillet and brown the sticks on all sides. When brown, place sticks on a 9x12 baking dish. Pour chicken broth over top and cook in oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until tender. When done, remove sticks to a dish and cover with foil. Take pan dripping and pour into a sauce pan and heat to boiling. Add arrowroot mixed with a bit of water and thicken into a gravy. Serve sticks with gravy.

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