Don’t allow looks fool you–it’s not necessarily chicken, y’all.
Should you increased in its northern border or Midwest regions of the nation, you may know a dish known as City Chicken, either like a mainstay inside your weeknight supper rotations or perhaps a favorite comfort food. Within the South, however, this really is one dish that simply isn’t perfectly known. We’re renowned for our fried chicken, and may fill a notebook with chicken casserole recipes alone, although not many have come across City Chicken. My Tennessee-born mother-in-law accustomed to get this to dish on her family however it was always a mysterious in my experience, never really being aware of what it had been, why it’d that name, and why I could not find any recipes for this within my Southern cookbooks. If you do research, however, I could patch together the storyline of the recipe, and just how it found travel completely from the kitchen in Detroit to some dining area table in Alabama. Continue reading for any little lesson in history on City Chicken.
You won’t look for a recipe for City Chicken within the chicken portion of a cook book because, well, it isn’t chicken. Referred to as a Depression Era recipe, cubes of veal and pork are threaded onto a skewer to create a faux drumstick. Seasoned and breaded, then fried or baked, it was a well known and scrumptious method to “fake” a chicken dinner. Why would you need to fake chicken? Before the 1940’s, everybody wanted a chicken around the dining room table, yet surprisingly it had been very costly, much more so than pork and veal. As Cynthia Graubart writes in Chicken – A Savor the South Cook book, “Families with chickens within the yard were unwilling to kill their egg-lounging hens, though when individuals hens finished their effectiveness as layers, these were tough old wild birds, fit just for stew.” Since chicken farming hadn’t yet become industrialized (thus making chicken easily available and economical), cooks round the country saved their chickens for any special meal. However, beef producers were butchering veal to be able to thin their herds, making veal more prevalent and fewer costly than chicken. Today, veal may be the more costly cut of meat and chicken is not restricted to Sunday dinner using the preacher.
Famous metropolitan areas through the eastern parts of Ohio and Michigan, and servings of the northeastern Appalachian regions, City Chicken doesn’t appear to possess made any inroads in to the major Southern culinary scene. Ask your friend, who had been elevated within the South, if she’s ever encountered City Chicken. The reply is most likely “no.” Look into the veal and pork parts of old Southern spiral-bound community cookbooks and find out if you discover a recipe for City Chicken – you might find a couple of. And yet you will find Southern cooks who get this to recipe, just how did this popular northern recipe escape South?
The storyline of the recipe is simply another consequence from the Southern Diaspora, a period when countless Southerners flocked towards the North and Midwest for jobs within the railroad and auto industries. They shared their most favorite Southern recipes using their new neighbors and buddies and, on the other hand, when individuals homesick for that South made their long ago, they introduced together the brand new recipes they’d learned to like, for example City Chicken. Though born in Tennessee, my mother-in-law moved together with her family to Detroit when her father found operate in the railroad industry. She married, elevated a household of her very own, and offered them City Chicken together with Southern cornbread (no sugar added!), after which introduced the recipe together with her when my dad-in-law was transferred lower South.
WATCH: Classic Chicken and Dumplings
In 1980 Southern Living printed Cooking Over the South, a cook book honoring the numerous diverse regions, cultures, and foodways that constitute this excellent jambalaya we call the South. This recipe for City Chicken was incorporated within the book.
1/2 lb. beef steak, reduce 1-inch cubes
1/2 lb. veal steak, reduce 1-inch cubes
1/2 lb. lean pork, reduce 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon. salt
1/2 teaspoon. pepper
11/2 cups fine dry breadcrumbs
1 Tablespoon water
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup water
1. Alternate cubes of beef, veal, and pork on 5-inch wooden skewers. Combine salt, pepper, and breadcrumbs. Beat egg with water. Roll skewered meat in seasoned breadcrumbs dip in egg, and roll in breadcrumbs again.
2. Heat shortening in heavy skillet brown meat on every side in hot shortening. Add water cover tightly and simmer for forty-five minutes, or until meat is tender. Yield: four to six servings