This is an operation, which, though apparently very simple, requires to be more carefully and skilfully conducted than it commonly is. Its success depends principally on allowing the fat to attain the exact degree of heat which shall give firmness, without too quick browning or scorching, before anything is laid into the pan; for if this be neglected the article fried will be saturated with the fat, and remain pale and flaccid. When the requisite degree of colour is acquired before the cooking is complete, the pan should be placed high above the fire, that it may be continued slowly to the proper point. Steaks and cutlets should be seasoned with salt and pepper, and dredged on both sides lightly with flour before they are laid into the pan, in which they should be often moved and turned, that they may be equally done, and that they may not stick nor burn to it. From ten to fifteen minutes will fry them. They should be evenly sliced, about the same thickness as for broiling, and neatly trimmed and divided in the first instance.
Lift them into a hot dish when done, pour the fat from the pan, and throw in a small slice of butter; stir to this a large teaspoonful of flour, brown it gently, and pour in by degrees a quarter pint of hot broth or water; shake the pan well round, add pepper, salt, and a little good catsup, or any other store sauce which may be preferred to it, and pour the gravy over the steaks: this is the most common mode of saucing and serving them.
Minute directions for fish, and others for omelets, and for different preparations of batter, are given in their proper places; but we must again observe, that a very small fryingpan (scarcely larger than a dinner-plate) is necessary for many of these; and, indeed, the large and thick one suited to meat and fish, and used commonly for them, is altogether unfit for nicer purposes.
The sauté-pan, shown in the preceding page, is much used by French cooks instead of a frying-pan; it is more particularly convenient for tossing quickly over the fire small collops, or aught else which requires but little cooking.
All fried dishes, which are not sauced, should be served extremely dry, upon a neatly-folded damask cloth: they are best drained, upon a sieve reversed, placed before the fire.
A wire basket of this form is convenient for frying parsley and other herbs. It must be placed in a pan well filled with fat, and lifted out quickly when the herbs are done: they may likewise be crisped in it over a clear fire, without being fried.