How to Cook Fried Chicken in the 18th Century


From the advent of the pressure cooker to the ingenious idea of serving it between two buns, fried chicken has come a long since its humble beginnings. The dish is thought of as an American classic today, but people were deep-frying chicken in Britain during the early 1700s. In the above video spotted by Sploid, Jonathan Townsend follows a fried chicken recipe from an 18th century British cookbook step by step.

The videos on Townsend's YouTube channel are dedicated to exploring and recreating life as it was lived in the 18th century. In the past he's delved into pigeon pie and cabbage pudding, but this latest dish is one that most modern viewers should be familiar with.

The recipe, taken from Nathan Bailey's Dictionarium Domesticum published in 1736, calls for things to be done a little differently than conventional fried chicken recipes of today. Instead of marinating the meat in buttermilk for several hours, the instructions call for it to soak in a lemon juice and malt vinegar base for no more than three hours. From there, it's dredged in a simple batter of flour and white wine, and dunked into a cast iron cauldron of oil heated by an open flame. The procedure already requires extra caution, so to make things a little easier on yourself Townsend recommends using a readily-available oil instead of the lard or clarified butter that would have been used close to 300 years ago. For the final touch, he fries a sprig of parsley and crumbles it on top as a garnish.

It may not resemble the fried chicken we find in our fast-food buckets today, but Townsend's reaction indicates that it's no less delicious. After you've conquered this old-school poultry preparation, consider testing these historical turkey-cooking tips for your next project.

[h/t Sploid]

All images courtesy of Jas. Townsend and Son, Inc. via YouTube.

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