The usual custom among professional cooks is to entirely immerse the article to be cooked in boiling fat, but from inconvenience most households use the half-frying method of frying in a small amount of fat in a frying pan. For the first method a shallow iron frying kettle, large at the top and small at the bottom, is best to use. The fat should half fill the kettle, or an amount sufficient to float whatever is to be fried; the heat of the fat should get to such a degree that, when a piece of bread or a tea-spoonful of the batter is dropped in it, it will become brown almost instantly, but should not be so hot as to burn the fat. Some cooks say that the fat should be smoking, but my experience is, that is a mistake, as that soon ruins the fat. As soon as it begins to smoke it should be removed a little to one side, and still be kept at the boiling point. If fritters, crullers, croquettes, etc., are dropped into fat that is too hot, it crusts over the outside before the inside has fully risen, making a heavy, hard article, and also ruining the fat, giving it a burnt flavor.
Many French cooks prefer beef fat or suet to lard for frying purposes, considering it more wholesome and digestible, does not impart as much flavor, or adhere or soak into the article cooked as pork fat. In families of any size, where there is much cooking required, there are enough drippings and fat remnants from roasts of beef, skimmings from the soup kettle, with the addition of occasionally a pound of suet from the market, to amply supply the need. All such remnants and skimmings should be clarified about twice a week, by boiling them all together in water. When the fat is all melted, it should be strained with the water and set aside to cool. After the fat on the top has hardened, lift the cake from the water on which it lies, scrape off all the dark particles from the bottom, then melt over again the fat; while hot strain into a small clean stone jar or bright tin pail, and then it is ready for use. Always after frying anything, the fat should stand until it settles and has cooled somewhat; then turn off carefully so as to leave it clear from the sediment that settles at the bottom.
Refined cotton-seed oil is now being adopted by most professional cooks in hotels, restaurants and many private households for culinary purposes, and will doubtless in future supersede animal fats, especially for frying, it being quite as delicate a medium as frying with olive oil. It is now sold by leading grocers, put up in packages of two and four quarts.
The second mode of frying, using a frying pan with a small quantity of fat or grease, to be done properly, should, in the first place, have the frying pan hot over the fire, and the fat in it actually boiling before the article to be cooked is placed in it, the intense heat quickly searing up the pores of the article and forming a brown crust on the lower side, then turning over and browning the other the same way.
Still, there is another mode of frying; the process is somewhat similar to broiling, the hot frying pan or spider replacing the hot fire. To do this correctly, a thick bottomed frying pan should be used. Place it over the fire, and when it is so hot that it will siss, oil over the bottom of the pan with a piece of suet, that is if the meat is all lean; if not, it is not necessary to grease the bottom of the pan. Lay in the meat quite flat, and brown it quickly, first on one side, then on the other; when sufficiently cooked, dish on a hot platter and season the same as broiled meats.