City chicken

City chicken

City chicken (also known in some locations as mock chicken) is a food entrée consisting of cubes of meat that are placed on a wooden skewer (approximately 4-5 inches long), sometimes breaded, then fried and/or baked. The origins of the entrée and its name are not entirely known, but it is rumored to have originated during the Depression Era, when people took meat scraps and fashioned a makeshift drumstick out of them. During this period, pork was cheaper than chicken in many parts of the country, especially for those far from rural poultry farms. Sometimes the meat was ground, and a drumstick-shaped mold was used to form the ground meat around a skewer. Today, better cuts of meat (usually pork loin, beef, and/or veal) are used. In spite of the name, the dish almost never contains chicken.

The dish (and hence the term) seem to be regionalized to the areas surrounding Pittsburgh, PA, ranging from Central Pennsylvania and the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia to as far west as the western suburbs of Cleveland, OH and Hamtramck, MI.

The most common version is made using pork as the base meat. Pittsburgh-area preparations are almost always breaded and usually baked, whereas the Cleveland version is generally baked without breading and served with gravy. Grocery stores in both areas sell wooden skewers of pork cubes pre-prepared as city chicken.

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