“City of chicken, are you browning just for me? City of chicken, There’s so much that I can eat.”
Okay, so that isn’t quite what Sebastian sang when walking the boardwalk at dusk in La La Land, but it would’ve been if he had eaten this meal. Inspired by the song City of Stars, which won the Academy Award for Music (Original Song), City of Chicken represents City Chicken, which is also known as “mock chicken.” Appearing before and during the Depression Era, City Chicken was a popular working class dish and made of pork because it was cheaper than chicken. The pork is cubed and skewered, breaded, then fried and baked.
In case you haven’t been paying attention to the hottest movies of the year, La La Land is the much talked about film that swept the Academy Awards. The film follows Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as Mia and Sebastian, a hopeful actress and a jazz musician, respectively. Mia and Sebastian pursue their passions in the one and only Los Angeles, where hearts are broken and dreams are crushed every day.
The film is colorful with elements of whimsy, humor, heartbreak, and beautiful shots of the City of Angels. Though rooted in reality (that L.A. traffic in the opening scene is no joke – I’ve spent way too much of my time sitting in that gridlock during my college years), there’s a refreshing escapism from the daily struggle when characters suddenly start flying in the air or get out of their cars to break into a perfectly choreographed dance and song.
In La La Land, Sebastian talks about dreams to own his own jazz club that he would call Chicken on a Stick (because Charlie Parker was known for eating chicken). Chicken and beer and jazz are undoubtedly a winning trio. City Chicken is already on a stick, which keeps it relatively clean and easy to pan fry then bake. I highly recommend using small sifts when breading the pork – this helps create a light and even coat of flour and breadcrumbs on the meat. Go through the three-step breading process of covering the pork in seasoned flour, eggs, and seasoned breadcrumbs, and then poke the 4-5” skewer through each cube of meat. Pan fry in olive oil until each side is a golden brown, and then place the skewers in a roasting pan with chicken stock. City Chicken only needs about an hour to fully cook through at 325°F.
City of Chicken, inspired by ‘La La Land’
1 ½ pounds pork tenderloin
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 whole eggs, whisked together
2 teaspoons salt (for the flour)
2 teaspoons pepper (for the flour)
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (for the flour)
2 teaspoons garlic salt (for the flour)
1 cup breadcrumbs
3 teaspoons smoked paprika (for the breadcrumbs)
3 teaspoons salt (for the breadcrumbs)
3 teaspoons pepper (for the breadcrumbs)
3 teaspoons garlic salt (for the breadcrumbs)
3 teaspoons dried oregano (for the breadcrumbs)
½ cup of Parmesan cheese (for the breadcrumbs)
9-10 4-5” wooden skewers
1 cup chicken stock
1. Pre-heat the oven to 325°F.
2. Cut the pork tenderloin into medium sized cubes.
3. Set up a breading station, with one bowl for the seasoned flour, the second bowl for the whisked eggs, and the third bowl for the seasoned breadcrumbs.
4. Flour the pork cubes by adding each cube to the sift and scooping up flour and shaking it until the pork is evenly covered.
5. Add the pork to the whisked eggs and make sure each side of the cube is covered in egg.
6. Add the pork to the breadcrumbs, evenly covering the cubes in the same way you did the flour (sift, scoop, shake).
7. Skewer the breaded pork cubes, adding 4-5 to each stick.
8. In a large shallow pan, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add each skewer 3-4 at a time (don’t overcrowd the pan), and let them brown on both sides.
9. When the pork has browned on both sides, place it on the roasting pan.
10. Add chicken stock to the bottom of the roasting pan, and cover the pan with aluminum foil.
11. Place the pan in the oven for one hour so the pork can cook through all the way. The chicken stock will prevent the chicken from sticking to the pan, and will make it tender and juicy.
12. When the pork has cooked through, remove it from the oven and let it cool. Use the remaining chicken stock to make a gravy for the chicken by adding butter into a pan until it melts, adding flour to make the butter thick, and then adding cool chicken stock (stock from the pan) and whisk together until thick. Salt as necessary.
© A Dash of Cinema
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P.S. Craving more pork? Pulled Pork Sandwiches inspired by Rudy.
Food Images by Lauren