1 chicken, cut up
1/2 lb. salt pork
1 cup milk, or half milk, half cream
1 tbs. flour
1 tbs. butter
Cut up half a pound of fat salt pork in a frying-pan, and fry until the grease is extracted, but not until it browns. Wash and cut up a young chicken (broiling size), soak in salt and water for half an hour; wipe dry, season with pepper and dredge with flour; then fry in the hot fat until each piece is a rich brown on both sides. Take up, drain, and set aside in a hot covered dish.
Pour into the gravy left in the frying-pan a cup of milk–half cream is better; thicken with a spoonful of flour and a table-spoonful of butter; add some chopped parsley, boil up, and pour over the hot chicken. This is a standard dish in the Old Dominion, and tastes nowhere else as it does when eaten on Virginia soil. The cream-gravy is often omitted, and the chicken served up dry, with bunches of fried parsley dropped upon it.
Common Sense in the Household by Marion Harland, New York, 1871
Half a pound of lard (which is essentially what salt pork is, you are just doing the “rendering” process in miniature in the frying pan) would probably horrify a modern dietician, but it is unquestionably the way to produce the world’s best fried chicken. Let your conscience, your waistline, and (sigh) your most recent cholesterol readings be your guide as to how often you wish to partake of this delight. The gravy, of course, is where the true wickedness comes from, but once again, you will never taste better in your life. If you wish to feel virtuous, you may omit the step of frying the parsley and strew it over the chicken in its fresh green state.