Tender cubes of pork loin threaded on a skewer, breaded, and pan fried or baked. City Chicken makes a great snack, appetizer, or main meal.
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My mother made City Chicken for us growing up. Mom was from upstate New York, Binghamton, and City chicken was a popular dish when she was growing up. I remember asking once her why it was called “City chicken” since there is no chicken in the dish, but she didn’t know.
Mom made her City Chicken with veal and pork threaded alternately on a skewer, breaded with breadcrumbs, and fried in a pan. It was delicious and always a treat when she made it.
What is City Chicken?
City Chicken is cubed pork or veal which is threaded on a stick or skewer, coated in an egg wash and then breaded. It’s most commonly fried in a frying pan but some people bake city chicken in oven then serve it with gravy. Some make it with minced or ground pork or veal and shaped around the stick or skewer. City chicken is also known as mock chicken, mock chicken legs, or mock drumsticks.
City Chicken – History
Several years ago I sat down to research the history of City chicken and found that City chicken originated in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s in the North Eastern and North Central parts of the US. (Ohio, upstate NY, Pennsylvania) where it is still popular today.
The story goes that poultry was very expensive in big cities, where it had to be trucked in from country farms. Because pork, beef, and veal were easy to transport by train and by barge to localized city stockyards, they were more plentiful thus more affordable.
Missing their much loved chicken-legs, people threaded cubed pork and/or veal on a skewer, and grilled or breaded and fried it in a pan. It resembled a chicken leg. Talk about the ultimate street food!
Another account has the veal or pork ground and shaped around the skewer, then cooked. It was portable like a chicken leg and easy to eat.
[I was sent that beautiful walnut iPad stand from Yohann to use in the kitchen. It is absolutely amazing! I will be using it a lot!]
How to Cook City Chicken
The preparation of City chicken varies as much as the regions in which it is prepared. It’s most common to see all veal, all pork, or a combination of the two alternated on a skewer. Some bread and pan fry, others oven bake, and some skip the breading all-together and saute their City chicken in the pan, cook it in the oven, or even grill it.
Some areas of the North East serve gravy over their City chicken, but I don’t remember any condiment served with my mom’s, growing up.
My mother and I use boneless pork loin to make our City chicken. I buy a whole pork loin and cut it into boneless pork chops and cube the rest for City chicken and pork stews. Sometimes, grocery stores in the region carry packaged veal or pork including the skewers.
How to Make City Chicken Low Carb and Gluten Free
I make my City Chicken low carb and gluten free with three different breading options depending on what ingredients I have in the house. I fry mine in a pan because that’s how mom always did it.
I make gluten free/Paleo City chicken with almond flour, or gluten free/ low carb keto City chicken with a combination of almond flour and Parmesan cheese or gluten free/ low carb keto City chicken with crushed pork rinds and Parmesan cheese:
- All almond flour (gluten free/ low carb/Paleo)
- Almond flour and Parmesan Cheese PICTURED (gluten free/ low carb keto)
- Crushed pork rinds and Parmesan Cheese (gluten free/ low carb keto)
They are all great, but my favorite is the crushed pork rind and parmesan cheese coating.
Where can I buy City Chicken sticks or skewers?
I buy my City chicken sticks on Amazon. I like to buy wooden corn on the cob sticks which I have been know to wash and use again. I know, it’s gross, but they are nice quality and last. I also buy thin 6 inch bamboo appetizer skewers which work just as well.
What side to serve with City Chicken
What you serve with City chicken depends on what variation one makes. My mother served potato salad or macaroni salad, cooked vegetables or a salad. Because my family eats low carb, I like to serve our City chicken with a mayo based dipping sauce mixed with mustard and vegetables. If I make City chicken as an appetizer then I serve it with the dipping sauce and a vegetable tray.
City Chicken (low carb, keto)
- 1 pounds boneless pork loin, cut into 1 inch cubes
- salt and pepper
- 1 large egg
- 2 tbsp olive oil or (avocado oil or coconut oil), divided
Gluten Free Low Carb Coating
- 1/2 cup Honeyville Almond Flour
- 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp granulated garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp granulated onion powder
- 8 wooden skewers
- Cut the pork into 1 inch cubes. Thread the pork onto 8 skewers. Season with salt and pepper. Can be done the day before and kept in the refrigerator.
- Mix the ingredients for the coating together in a container large enough to fit a whole skewer.
- Place the threaded skewers on a large dinner plate. Beat the egg and pour over the pork. Turn the skewers coating each in the egg.
- Heat a medium frying or saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add 1 tbsp of oil and swirl to coat the pan.
- Take a skewer of pork, letting any excess egg drain back onto the plate, and roll it into the the breading mixture. Make sure it is coated well. Place it into the pan. Repeat the breading process on 3 more skewers.
- Cook the City chicken approximately 1 1/2 minutes each side, on all 4 sides. Remove to a paper towel and cook the remaining skewers of City Chicken. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Makes 8 skewers with 2 skewers per person or 1 each for an appetizer. 1.6 net carbs for two skewers.
- Pork Rind Version per serving (2 skewers): Using 1/2 cup crushed pork rinds and 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese - Calories: 282, Fat: 18, Carbs: trace, Protein: 30Paleo - All Almond flour using 1 cup of almond flour (2 skewers): Using 3/4 cup of Almond Flour - Calories: 341, Fat: 25, Carbs: 4, Fiber: 2, Protein: 26, Net Carbs: 2Dipping Sauce Pictured: I mixed 1/2 cup mayo with 1/4 cup chipotle mustard. You can add sweetener if you want.Nutritional information does not include calories or fat from oil for frying. It's very hard to calculate how much each skewer soaks up during cooking.