City Chicken

December 17, 2021
4 Ratings
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 2 hours
  • makes About 12 sticks
Author Notes

I must have heard a dozen stories about the origins of City Chicken...Polish, German, Hungarian; made with minced meat and formed on a stick to resemble a chicken drumstick; cubes of pork on a stick; baked, fried; very popular in the goes on and on. My version is my mom's version, very simple but ultimate comfort food. —inpatskitchen

Test Kitchen Notes

So, it's true, city chicken doesn't actually have any chicken in the recipe. Reportedly, pork and veal were less expensive than chicken during the Great Depression, so it's used here to basically taste like fried chicken. It's got Polish roots and is pretty common in Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, as well as parts of New York. The editor who's currently writing this grew up in Pittsburgh and tried city chicken for the first time in the Polish Hill neighborhood. Though it's been a while since she's been back, she hopes that the city chicken is still as good as she remembers it. Visiting that neighborhood was always a culinary delight, and it's highly recommended to sample some of the local delis and restaurants there if ever one finds oneself visiting or living in Pittsburgh.

This recipe calls for both pork shoulder and veal stew meat, but you can use more pork if you can't find or don't like veal. All that's left are simple pantry ingredients, such as eggs, breadcrumbs, and flour. After coating the meat with seasoned breadcrumbs, brown the meat in a large pan, then let it continue to bake in the oven until the perfect consistency and texture are reached. Definitely do as the developer suggested and serve with some form of potatoes alongside, as the broth from baking the meat make for an excellent sauce. Hopefully you'll love making and eating city chicken as much as this Pittsburgh-raised editor does. Let us know how yours turn out in the comments. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1½-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 pounds veal stew meat (use all pork if you can't find veal)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 2 large eggs, beaten with 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups seasoned dry breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth or water
  1. Heat the oven to 325°F. Onto 12 to 15 wooden skewers, 4 to 5 inches long, alternately thread the pork and veal cubes. Generously season with salt and pepper. Dust the skewers with a little flour, shaking off any excess.
  2. Coat the meat with the beaten eggs, then coat with the breadcrumbs.
  3. In a large skillet, pour in the oil to a depth of about 1 inch and heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry the meat until well browned on all sides.
  4. Arrange the skewers in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Pour the broth into the dish. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover the dish, increase the oven temperature 350°F, and continue to bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the desired degree of doneness.
  5. The broth in the baking dish keeps the meat moist and creates a little sauce to dress the meat and the must-have mashed potatoes!
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Demi Taylor
    Demi Taylor
  • James Yedinak
    James Yedinak
  • hlhambrick
  • sexyLAMBCHOPx
  • Beth Colla
    Beth Colla

Recipe by: inpatskitchen

I think I get my love for food and cooking from my mom, who was an amazing cook. She would start baking and freezing a month before Christmas in order to host our huge open house on Christmas afternoon. I watched and I this day I try not to procrastinate when it comes to entertaining. My cooking style is pretty much all over the place, although I'm definitely partial to Greek and Italian cuisine. Oh yes, throw a little Cajun in there too!

32 Reviews

Saevans May 21, 2022
I loved city chicken as a kid and am very excited to try this recipe. However, where can I find the wooden skewers? I live in Florida and have tried in the past with no luck!
Beth C. May 22, 2022
I have the same issues. I have gone to party stores and gotten the wooden 6 inch cocktail skewers. They are thinner, but you can use 2 (side by side for some more stability). I have also found wooden skewers in oriental grocery stores. However, you can look up Candy Apple sticks on Amazon and they are 6 inch heavy duty sticks. They would be perfect. Happy Cooking!!
Karencos63 July 13, 2022
Amazon sells them.
Karencos63 July 13, 2022
Type in wooden skewers. They are 6.00 for 100.
Jen S. August 18, 2020
Another Buffalo girl who's grandmother made this all the time! Love this.. thanks for the recipe!
inpatskitchen August 18, 2020
Thanks so much!!
Demi T. July 26, 2020
Wow. Almost forgot about this. Growing up in the Cleveland Ohio area (Berea) we ate this all the time. I'm excited to have these again and my own kids to enjoy a taste of my,childhood. I asked my mom and this is how she made them too!
inpatskitchen July 27, 2020
So happy you found the recipe here Demi! This has been a family favorite of ours for years and years. Sure hopw you enjoy!
Susan L. March 4, 2020
The recipe for "City Chicken"was originally published in the cookbook "The Joy Of Cooking". My mother always made these with ground veal or a combination of beef and pork ground meats. The ground meats waaay baack* when were more coarsely ground than present day ground beef is now.

* I am quite old now!
inpatskitchen March 4, 2020
We always referred to the ground meat version as "mock chicken drums". Both are good...I'm quite old now too!(lol)
James Y. January 9, 2020
in my household wasn’t the ‘...must have mashed potatoes...’. It was always served with Parsleyed potatoes. (Making them as I write this!)
inpatskitchen January 9, 2020
Yum! I love parsleyed potatoes!
James Y. June 17, 2019
A few times I've seen someone ask on Facebook "What's city chicken?" The common reply is that there's no chicken involved. Guess it's an East Coast kind of thing (I'm from Pittsburgh). Love the chicken stock add on, my Mom never did that. Great recipe, and a great meal!
inpatskitchen June 17, 2019
Thanks James! Very popular here in Michigan also!
Drew M. January 5, 2019
Well, Im a 60-70s child and this was a mainstay for me and my 4 siblings growing up. I know quite often my mom couldn't afford the veal so these were most likely made with cubed pork only. I adapted my mom's recipe by adding a cup of chicken stock to the pan, Cooking for 1 hour @ 325 ,Removing foil and cooking for an additional 15 minutes @ 350 degrees. Yummy. So moist & tender.
inpatskitchen January 5, 2019
Our family mainstay also...Thanks Drew!
hlhambrick December 11, 2018
My gramma made these. Great seeing this recipe! She would actually put a trivet in a large skillet and steam them that way. Otherwise, the breading is super soggy if it's directly in the water. She also would use regular bread crumbs that she would add salt and pepper to. So sad that I can't get these from a butcher down in Texas - I have to do it all myself if I want it.
inpatskitchen December 11, 2018
So glad you like these! They're a family favorite around here. I've been having a little trouble finding the right veal lately also. Hope you make them soon! ( I like a little soggy on the bottom (lol) )
Trisha July 29, 2014
I've made this a couple times. Delicious! Even my VERY picky eater son loved this.
inpatskitchen July 29, 2014
I'm so happy you (and that picky eater) enjoy these. They're a family favorite around here..thanks so much!
sexyLAMBCHOPx January 17, 2014
Just saved this thanks to the hotline. Never heard or seen it - I live in NY/CT. Must try!
inpatskitchen January 17, 2014
I've heard that it's big in Buffalo, NY and for sure in the Midwest. Easy to make...let me know what you think if you make it!
sexyLAMBCHOPx January 17, 2014
Any chance this can be adapted with beef or chicken with good results? Not a big pork fan.
inpatskitchen January 17, 2014
I'd use mainly veal with maybe a little beef shoulder meat. Make sure the beef has some fat on it though and you may need to cook a little longer(not sure). I think chicken would dry out too quickly.
Christine D. September 19, 2019
My mom never liked veal so she would make this for my dad using cubed beef and pork. She never told my dad (who thought it was always veal) LOL
inpatskitchen September 19, 2019
Too funny!!
Beth C. January 1, 2014
The most requested food for birthdays and holidays in my mother's home. I grew up south of Pittsburgh, Pa. They actually have trays of cut meat and skewers in the meat dept. of local grocery stores. Have never seen it anywhere else I've lived. Thanks for the great recipe and the nostalgic memories!
inpatskitchen January 1, 2014
We see them here in the counters already skewered and sometimes even breaded...very popular in the Detroit area... Thanks so much for taking an interest!
Nicole D. April 4, 2013
I remember seeing these as a girl at the Broadway Market in Buffalo, NY!
My Polish Grandma made them so delicious!
inpatskitchen April 4, 2013
Thanks Nicole! They really are wonderful aren't they? And so easy to make!
Fran M. April 13, 2012
I remember eating these as a kid in Buffalo , New York. Nobody I know has ever heard about them. It's nice to see them here. Thanks for adding it to your recipes.
inpatskitchen April 19, 2012
Thanks Fran! Sorry I didn't respond sooner but I'm not getting all notifications on e-mail. I know parts of the country have never heard of City Chicken, but they're very popular here in Southeast Michigan...and oh so good!!