New Year Pretzel & City Chicken (A Very Pittsburgh New Year)


Published 1973

Happy New Year, kittens!

The days of December 31 and January 1 are rife with superstition and things to do and not do in order to roll into the new year as a lucky duck and leave the bad parts of the previous year behind.

Depending on where you’re from this could include eating black eyed peas or pickled herring or putting a dime on your windowsill.

As a kid growing up in Western PA, there were two foods that were must-haves in order to usher in a prosperous new year: pork and sauerkraut. And for good measure, throw in a lucky New Year’s Pretzel purchased from the local Giant Eagle.

I have never seen the pretzel outside of Pittsburgh, but I wanted to make 2015 a helluva lucky year by having all three. So I had to bake my own.

I found the recipe in a copy of the Three Rivers Cookbook that I perused last weekend while at my brother’s house. I wasn’t looking for it. But there it was:

new year's pretzel recipe

According to this recipe, it’s a German tradition. Can anyone else verify that?

I anticipated that the pretzel would be a challenge since I am baking-impared, but it went surprisingly well!

The dough rose and was very easy to roll out.

more blog photos 017more blog photos 018more blog photos 019New Year's Pretzelmore blog photos 024

Here’s the final product, festooned with powdered sugar icing, candied Maraschino cherries, and crushed walnuts.

Pittsburgh New Year's Pretzel

I think it’s rather pretty! Sadly, the inside of the pretzel was a little under-cooked.

Me and the baking, man! It’s always something, ya know?

Now, from the Eve to the Day and my pork and sauerkraut.

I’ve been hankering to make City Chicken for the longest time because it is a very Pittsburgh-specific dish, it has very distinct packaging, and I remember eating it as a kid and it was delish. So when I came across a package of City Chicken in the meat aisle at the Homestead Giant Eagle, I knew I had to make it.  So I froze it and it came back with me to Baltimore.

Yes, I do sometimes cross state lines with frozen meat.

pittsburgh city chicken

The chicken is pork. And there are little skewers. In the package!

Mama's RecipesLet me note that I don’t know why one would need to replicate chicken with pork or veal because it seems to me that chicken would be less expensive than both of those meats, but who knows what it was like back in the Depression when children were forced to eat hamburger three times a day.

I used a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Mama’s Recipes: A Treasury of Hungarian-American Foods. 

City chicken recipe

Let me note that as I made these, they did begin to resemble little fried chicken drumsticks. Do you think that’s how they got their name?

city chicken

Pork city chicken

I love when I get to use my electric chicken fry

Here’s my New Year’s dinner plate complete with some green beans and the sauerkraut (which I just baked with some brown sugar while the City Chicken simmered):

City Chicken

This pork was frickin’ delicious. And is a great vehicle for Heinz ketchup. I found myself eating the pork skewers just as I would a chicken leg/wing. The pork is super-juicy and even reheated nicely in the microwave.

So this was a good note on which to begin my new year! Even if 2015 is pretty shitty, I cannot blame my inaugural dinner.

I also want to extend happy new year wishes from Brian (or at least as happy as he can get). Here he is enjoying one of the Christmas gifts I got this year from my sister in law:

Brian and Brian


It’s perfect. I even sometimes catch the pillow out of the corner of my eye and think that it’s Brian staring at me from the couch.

Which is terrifying.

Can you imagine a Brian that size? He’d eat me out of house and home (more so than already). Also, Brian is already prolific when it comes to his litter habits and sweet Christ on a cracker his poops would be huge. HUGE! All of my time would be spent feeding him and pooper scooping. And I’d live in fear that he’d kill me in my sleep and eat my face.

Just for shits and giggles.

HAPPY 2015!

(P.S. I didn’t finish the Bisquick Pies before the end of 2014. There is one left and it is tomato and zucchini. And who wants to cook with tomatoes and zucchini in January? Maybe it’ll happen in the summer. Or not. Whatever.)

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8 Responses to New Year Pretzel & City Chicken (A Very Pittsburgh New Year)

  1. 2015 will not be shitty! It will be ACES for you my dear, I knows it. I am jealous of your electric skillet. But I’m not going to do what I did when I saw your Veg-o-matic and go and buy one immediately on ebay. Used it once and it’s been in the cupboard ever since! Mind you, it was fun. HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM LONDON! Jx

    • Yinzerella says:

      You bought a Veg-O-Matic? Did I know that?
      Well, you’re just going to have to pick recipes specifically for the VOM. I might try fresh cut french fries this year.

      Happy New Year to you, too, doll! I hope you have a splendid 2015.

  2. That Brian pillow has already made my year. 2015 is going to be kick ass.

  3. Rusty Cunningham says:

    Happy New Year & sorry about your Steelers.

  4. Angie says:

    Yes, summer from veggies from you own garden from your own home! That’s what I was going to be doing this year I hope I hope I hope!

  5. Jill says:

    City Chicken! I TOTALLY forgot about this food! My mom made it all the time. I sat here salivating through the whole post.
    Merry Belated Christmas to you too, Brian.

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  7. Ahhhhh, CITY CHICKEN IN A PACKET – that is genius! I too loved my City Chicken and can’t wait to make it again. Also, I’d forgotten about your New Year Pretzel. Jealous of the green maraschino cherries. Why, oh why, can we only get red ones in the UK?

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