TheScottish immigrantsfrom the southern states of America had a custom of deep-frying chicken in fat and even further back they used to fry fritters in the middle ages. The migrants from Scotland would often work, live and dine with the African slaves and this lead to the Africans adding some additional seasonings to the mix andcreatingtheir own versionof crispy deep-fried chicken. These Africans later went on to become thechefsin many a Southern American family where crispy deep-fried chicken became a common staple. They also discovered that it transported well inhotconditions in the times before refrigeration was common so was consumed on almost a daily basis as they travelled to the cotton fields to work. Since, it has become the region’s top choicefor just about any occasion.
This is said to have come from a chap known as James Boswell who wrote arecordin 1773 called “record of a Tour to the Hebrides”. In his record he noted that at meals the local folks would eat fricassee of chicken which he went on to say “deep-fried chicken or something like that”. What he really heard was the Scottish dish Friars Chicken, not crispy deep-fried chicken but you could say that where it was first named.
The very true origins of crispy deep-fried chicken we will probably never know but the earliest known procedure for deep-fried chicken in English is obscured in one of the most renowned cooking books of the 18th century by Hannah Glasse named The Art of cookery Made Plain and Easy. Her food had a strange name called “To Marinate Chickens” which was first available in 1747. The book was a hit in the England and more importantly in the American Colonies.
Here is the original mix...
Cut two chickens into quarters; steep them in vinegar for 3-4 hours with pepper, salt, bay and a few cloves. Make a very thick batter first with ½ pint of wine and flour then the yolks of two eggssome melted butter and nutmeg. Beat it all together thoroughly, dip yourchicken piecesin the batter and fry them in a excellent deal of pork shorteningwhich must boil first before you put your fowl in. Let them be of bronze incolour and arrange them on your dish with a garnish of fried parsley. Serve with lemon wedges and a excellent gravy. In the present day, we have exchanged the hog fat with Rapeseed oil which has nearly zero trans fats and we use a brine of buttermilk and salt to season our chicken throughout. It’s amazing to think how far this food has walked worldwide and how different cultures have adopted their own versions.