City chicken, it's not really chicken

July 18, 2012 

City chicken contains no chicken; it could be called faux drumsticks.

During the Depression and even back to Germany in the 1700s, chicken was an expensive meat, much more so than pork or veal, but cooks still wanted a chicken look-alike. City Chicken was created for that purpose.

A mixture of veal and pork, or primarily pork today, is formed into a drumstick shape with a skewer inserted into the center, rolled in seasoned crumbs and fried or baked or both. 

This dish was popular in the Ohio, Michigan and the eastern United States, especially in the cities away from the fertile farms where chickens were raised during the Depression. Butchers in those areas still sell city chicken already prepared with skewers.

Reader Audrey Thompson of Sarasota remembers her grandmother making City Chicken and asked fellow readers for their help in finding a similar recipe. Thompson made City Chicken once but was disappointed with the results. Her grandmother used a mixture of pork and veal on a skewer that was breaded, browned in skillet and then finished off in the oven.

"I was trying to find a place where I could buy them here in Sarasota," said Thompson. "There is a market in Michigan (Marv's Meats in Brighton) that sells City Chicken, but they don't deliver."

Thanks to readers' help, Thompson and her mother will have three recipes of City Chicken to try. If anyone knows where Thompson can buy premade City Chicken in the Sarasota area, please let me know.

Perhaps a reader or two know of a meat market or specialty market that ships the pre-made dish. Again, tell me.

"I have a recipe for city chicken that my deceased mother-in-law made," said Bonnie Frye. "It's really good. Enjoy! I have made it many times."


2 pounds of pork and veal cubes

2/3 cup saltine cracker crumbs

1- 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon paprika

3/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 egg, slightly beaten

2 tablespoons milk

1 beef bouillon cube dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water

Dip pork and veal cubes in milk and egg. Roll in cracker crumbs. Brown slowly on all sides. Pour beef bouillon over meat. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover, and bake for 30 minutes more.

-- Submitted by Bonnie Frye

"My mother-in-law and great cook, Martha Betyn, gave me this recipe for City Chicken more 55 years ago, and I still make them today," said Toni Betyn. "It takes a little time to prepare and cut the meat; otherwise, it goes pretty fast."


3 pounds of pork (I use either pork loin or boneless country ribs) trimmed of fat and cut into 1- 1/2-inch cubed pieces

Wooden skewers

2 well-beaten eggs

2 cups cracker meal


Canola oil for frying

Prepare and lightly salt meat, put about 5 pieces on skewers. Dip each skewer into beaten eggs and roll in cracker meal.

Fry in canola oil until browned on all sides. Lay them side by side in a casserole dish, add 1/2 cup water to dish and cover. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or until fork tender. Happy eating.

-- Submitted by Toni Betyn

"I have my mother's 1943 'Joy of Cooking' cookbook, and in it I found the following recipe for City Chicken," said Joan Clark of Carriere, Miss.


Cut into 1-by-1- 1/2-inch pieces 1-pound veal steak and 1 pound pork steak. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Arrange the veal and pork cubes alternately on 6 skewers. Press the pieces close together into the shape of a drumstick.

Roll the meat in flour. Beat 1 egg and 2 tablespoons water. Dip the sticks in the diluted egg, then roll them in bread crumbs.

Melt in a skillet1/4-cup shortening. Add 1 tablespoon minced onion (optional). Place meat sticks in shortening. Brown the meat well. Cover the bottom of the skillet with boiling stock or stock substitute or water. Put a lid on the skillet and cook the meat over very high heat until it is tender.

Thicken the pan gravy with flour (2 tablespoons flour to 1 cup of liquid). If preferred, the skillet may be covered and placed in a slow oven at 325 degrees until the meat is tender.

Makes 6 servings

-- Submitted by Joan Clark

Ice cream and soda

Larry C. George of Biloxi, Miss., sent in another unusual ice cream recipe for Esther Tidwell and others to try. Tidwell previously asked for ice cream recipes for her new ice cream maker.

George makes this ice cream with strawberry soda.

"It's best with Big Red, but any strawberry soda will work," he said.


2 liters Big Red

2 cans Eagle Brand condensed milk

2 packages (about 1 cup each) of the cheapest, mushiest frozen strawberries you can find

Mix together and put into freezer according to manufacturer's instructions. Enjoy.

-- Submitted by Larry C. George

Need help cutting carbs

"My family is trying to get a handle on our diets and the excess of carbohydrates in our lives," said Angie Jones of Gulfport, Miss. "I have been looking for spaghetti squash, but cannot find it. Would you please ask your readers for some ways to cut carbs and for any suggestions they might have? Also, where can I find spaghetti squash and will it freeze?

Readers, send in your ideas and recipes for whittling carbohydrates in diets. I know Angie will greatly appreciate it.

Andrea Yeager, a freelance writer, can be reached at Send contributions or requests to Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.

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