My mother’s city chicken recipe was a family favorite growing up. It is an easy meal to prepare during the week. The crazy thing is that it has no chicken! Check out other people’s comments about your family’s chicken recipes.
You may also like my low-carb urban chicken in the air fryer!
I grew up eating a lot of city chicken as a kid and never wondered why it was called that, since there’s no chicken involved. Recently, my father-in-law, who used to be a butcher, explained this simulated chicken to me.
The chicken of the city is one of his favorite dishes, so I wanted to make this regional meal for him and thought I would share it with you because it is easy and tasty.
What is city chicken?
My father-in-law went on to say that fresh chicken was once more expensive than pork and beef in grocery stores. So people made city chicken, which is essentially cubes of pork and beef on a stick that is breaded to act as a fried chicken leg or chicken thigh.
It’s a regional dish and very popular here in Pittsburgh. And from the comments of my readers below, Ohio, Michigan and parts of New York are also very popular. For more information, check out this article on the city’s chicken.
What kind of meat to use?
The classic chicken of the city is usually made with a mixture of lean pork and beef and not chicken. However, sometimes I only use pork because it’s cheaper and easier to find. Today I passed a large local butcher, Lampert’s, which my friend had told me about. They had great cuts of meat and lots of delicious looking prepared food.
And there in the case there was city chicken already cut and placed on wooden skewers as you can see below.
Many grocery stores in the area carry packages of chicken from the city with skewers composed of a combination of pork and beef cubes ready for you to assemble.
If your shopkeeper doesn’t take them, don’t despair. Just find some wooden skewers and a good piece of boneless pork and/or beef and cut it into pork cubes yourself.
Sometimes I only use boneless pork ribs, and since they are already cut into thick strips, it is very easy to cut them into cubes.
How to make city chicken
You can make this dish in many different ways, but my mom does it like this
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the meat cubes on the wooden skewers.
Step 2: Take out a shallow dish to beat the egg and another for the breading (dry breadcrumbs, paprika and Parmesan cheese). Dip the city chicken skewers in a beaten egg mixture or wash the egg and then the seasoned bread crumbs. Do this with all the skewers and place them on the plate and season with salt and black pepper on both sides.
Step 3: Take out a large skillet like a cast iron skillet so you can also place it in the oven. Or if you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, you can also use a baking dish in the next step.
Add the vegetable oil and heat over medium high heat. When the oil is sizzling, lower the heat to medium and brown both sides of the city’s chicken skewers. This should take about 2-3 minutes per side.
Step 4: Finally transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until well cooked. The internal temperature should be at least 145°F.
If you don’t have a safe baking pan, you can transfer the golden meat skewers to a pyrex baking dish and then bake them. Be sure to spray the dish with spray to cook first.
Step 5: You can use the same pan with the brown pieces to make a brown sauce if you want. We usually don’t use sauce, but many people do. (Scroll down to see the printable prescription card.)
If you read the reviews below, you’ll see a LOT of ways other people make city chicken and hear about some of their fond memories of this delicious dish.
The end result is a tender and juicy city chicken. I’ve made some sauce at the end with the drops from the pan, but my mom never did it and my father-in-law doesn’t like it that way, so I wouldn’t normally bother doing it.
and how to make urban chicken in the air fryer
I’m primarily a low-carb blogger, of course, I had to make a gluten-free, low-carb version which you can see below. The breading is made with a mixture of almond flour and some other ingredients. You can see it in the photo below.
air fryer and it was fantastic. My family liked it as much as my mother’s recipe. If you’re on a low-carb or gluten-free diet, this might be a good recipe to check out.
- To make this recipe in the air fryer prepare the skewers as above. Preheat the air fryer for 5 minutes and then spray the basket with nonstick cooking spray.
- Place the skewers in the basket and also spray the ones with cooking spray.
- Cook in the air fryer at 390°F for 12-15 minutes until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 145°F. You can also flip them halfway if you want.
As they say, pork is the other white meat. You can see above how it looks like breaded chicken. And there you have my mom’s recipe for the chicken in town.
It’s a nice, easy meal on weekdays that I’m sure your family will love. At least that’s how we do it in the ‘burgh and it’s nostalgic food for us. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
How to make city chicken low carb or gluten-free? I have a low-carb recipe here, but you basically only use a combination of almond flour, Parmesan cheese, and spices. You can also try crushed pork rinds for breading. Where can I buy wooden skewers or sticks? Many grocery stores will have the sticks, but you can also try Asian grocery stores or are on Amazon. What kind of meat is best for the city’s chicken? It was originally made from pork and beef, but I only use pork because it’s easier to find and less expensive. I like to use boneless pork loin ribs. What to serve with city chicken? Many people make a sauce with drops from the pan and serve with mashed potatoes. You would really treat this like any meat main course. We eat it with a hearty dish like mashed potatoes and green beans.
P.S. Please read the comments below. I guess this dish is a recipe loved by people in this area and many people have variations in the recipe that they can remember or enjoy. And if you have any questions, please ask.