You may have seen it called mock chicken. It’s been served up on family tables for generations.

You may have seen it called mock chicken. It’s been served up on family tables for generations.

City Chicken isn’t actually chicken; it’s also been known as mock chicken. It’s sometimes thought of as a Polish recipe, although it’s not actually from Poland. What’s up with this dish?

Dating back to the turn of the previous century, City Chicken, a Polish-American recipe, has roots in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Cleveland, Ohio and spread to Great Lakes cities such as Detroit, Michigan and Buffalo, New York. Nostalgic comfort food from the Rust Belt.

So to start, you need a good cut of pork.

I use pork tenderloin, but a pork loin will work just as well.

My purchase usually depends entirely on which cut of meat is on sale that week.

Otherwise, the ingredients needed are pretty basic & also common.

  • pork tender/loin
  • bread crumbs
  • oil
  • flour
  • eggs
  • salt & pepper
  • ground thyme

That’s it!

Now we just have to put everything together.

Assembling The Skewers

Cut the meat into roughly 1 1/2″ cubes.

A little smaller, or larger, is ok. It’s not an exact science.

Thread several chucnks of meat onto a 4-5 inch wooden skewer. I can usually fit four, sometimes five.

You want the meat pressed close together, no gaps, smooshed even, but with an obvious end of wooden skewer left on each side for holding onto.

Thread all of the meat onto the wooden skewers, and then set them aside.

Next, it’s time to get everything ready for coating.

I find it best to do it in an assembly line style, with three different stations.

A flat plate of flour, a wide shallow bowl with egg, and then another flat plate for the bread crumbs.

The assembly line helps me move quickly, and ensures the best even final coating.

Working with on skewer at a time, roll and coat them in the flour (shake off any excess).

Transfer it to the egg was bowl, rolling to evenly coat. Hold it aloft for a second or two to allow any excess egg to drip back into the bowl.

Roll it in the bread crumb coating, pressing it in as needed to ensure an even coat.

Set the prepared city chicken skewer aside on a clean plate, and repeat until all the remaining skewers are evenly coated.

How To Cook

I know it sounds a bit off, but classic city chicken is a two step process when it comes to cooking.

It’s flash fried, and then baked in the oven to finish.

So we’ll brake it down into two steps for simplicity’s sake!

Flash Frying

Flash frying is a simple tecnique for getting gorgeous, golden brown crispy coatings on many street-style fried foods.

Basically, it involves submerging food in very hot (350 degrees in this case) oil for anywhere from 1-5 minutes.

The oil’s so hot that it immediately sears the outer coating, essentially sealing the inside off from the oil since it can no longer penetrate.

This gives a beautiful color and crunch to the outside of the city chicken skewers, but means the meat inside still needs to cook through.

Watch the skewers carefully to prevent burning, and once they’re a gorgeous golden brown, remove them to paper towels to drain off excess grease.

Transfer the skewers to a 9×13″ baking dish, repeating until they’ve all been fried and are ready to finish off in the oven.

Oven Baked

Sprinkle the fried city chicken with droplets of water, these will steam off during baking and keep it moist, yet crisp.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil to seal.

Bake the skewers for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Then carefully remove the foil, and bake them an additional 10 minutes.

I set mine directly in the pan, just like Nonna did.

However, my MIL swears by laying them out on a wire rack set inside her pyrex baking dish for extra crispness.

I like both our versions equally, so you decide for yourself which method works for you.

They’re ready to serve as soon as they come out of the oven, although be careful because the insides may be much hotter than they appear.

three skewers of Nonna's fried city chicken on a white platter served with fresh herbs and honey mustard sauce for dipping

What Kind Of Skewers Should I Use?

The good, old fashioned wooden ones work best. You can find them pretty cheaply online.

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