One very fresh chicken but into 15 pieces -- that would be one wishbone, two breasts each cut in half, two thighs, two legs, two wings/wing tips, two wing drummetts, one back cut into two pieces. If you really want to get old school have the very fresh chicken feet cleaned and boiled and ready for frying. This method of cutting is how a one chicken fed a family of 11 in the 1920's.
All purpose flour
Salt and Pepper (loads of salt -- forget any scary stories about salt and high blood pressure)
Paper grocery bag (preferably from Piggly Wiggly or Winn Dixie)
Peanut Oil (Crisco in a pinch, but it is not the same)
Black iron skillet and a cover
After you cut the chicken into pieces, soak the chicken in ice water for an hour or two. Maybe three. Keep adding ice. You want the chicken chilled
Put a couple of handfuls of flour in the paper Piggly Wiggly or Winn Dixie grocery bag. No joke. Just watch how the bottoms come out of other paper bags when you shake a pound or two of flour and chicken pieces in the wrong bag.
Add salt and pepper to taste to the flour.
Fill the cast iron skillet one-half or less full of peanut oil. Heat until a drop of water sizzles.
Take a few of the largest/thickest pieces of chicken (probably thighs, wishbone and breasts) and put it in seasoned flour in paper bag. Shake until evenly coated. Add one at a time to the hot oil making sure the oil doesn't cool down between additions and do not overfill or crowd. Continue to add chicken until the pan is full.
You will have to make this in two batches. But that's no problem because you are frying your chicken for dinner which is Southern for lunch. And, because you cut up your chicken and put it in ice water right after you finished the breakfast dishes you have plenty of time to start frying by 10:30 am so the chicken is fresh but not too hot by noon when everyone is expected to eat.
Anyway when the bottom and sides of the chicken is golden brown -- about 10 - 12 minutes flip each piece over. Cook this for another five minutes or so.
While this is cooking you will have time to set the table with silverware, water glasses (for the sweet tea), and a side salad that is really a pear salad, or a pink jello congealed salad or sliced tomatoes or anything but shredded lettuce and bottled French dressing.
You are keeping an eye on the color of the chicken.
When you see the chicken is probably five minutes from being done, VERY CAREFULLY BECAUSE HOT OIL SPLATTERS, with the lid in one hand and about 1/8 cup of water in the other, pour the water into the frying oil skillet and immediately put the top on. You want to leave this for another five minutes or so for the chicken to get super crispy and moist. Take the lid off but be careful because there will be steam.
Don't overcook your chicken. You just want a nice golden brown. Take the fried chicken out and let it drain on another paper bag.
Repeat the process with the remaining wings, backs, and feet. Or, maybe you are going to cook another chicken so everyone gets More of Margaret's Fried Chicken. (It is great left out in a covered bowl on the counter for munching on at midnight.) Or maybe you put the backs in the freezer for your collection of chicken parts to make Homemade Chicken Stock. If so, crowd the wings in with the other cooking chicken once there is room.
While this is cooking, you have time to make the biscuits which you make with self rising flour, buttermilk, butter and a biscuit cutter. If you are pressed for time you can open a can of store-bought biscuits and bake those but people will complain. It is better to serve sliced white bread than no bread at all.
Heat your vegetables or preferably finish mashing the potatoes. Whip the potatoes using a little potato water, half and half milk and a stick of butter. Salt and pepper to taste. Better to have it slightly on the salty side.
When your chicken is finished cooking, pour off the peanut oil into a metal container that, when cooled, can be strained and rebottled to be used again.
Keep a little of the oil in the skillet -- maybe a tablespoon. Add your leftover flour from the paper bag to the chicken crust stuck in the bottom of the skillet. Saute and keep stirring the flour and let that come to a golden brown. Do not let it burn. Slowly add a cup of water and milk mixture making sure that the flour does not clump. Keep adding water and milk mixture until you have a nice creamy milk gravy. Let it bubble a minute or two as it thickens. Salt and pepper to taste. Add a dash of Pickled Hot Sauce if you are so inclined. Immediately pour gravy into a gravy boat for serving on the potatoes.
Call everyone to dinner, say grace, start passing the food around an oval table, and be sure and have something sweet for dessert. If you are the cook, expect others to clean up afterwards.
But if you are Margaret Rayfield, your kitchen was pretty much clean before you sat down for dinner -- or supper.