Yes, it's a cheap gas stove.
Regarding the vinegar, please see my response to kengk above.
Regarding the high setting on the stove, I put it on high just to heat the oil up, and then keep it on high for a couple of minutes after I put the chicken in, before turning it down. It sounds like your oil is too hot, which may or may not be related to how high your stove is set. I only heat the oil on high for about 7-8 minutes.
Different strokes for different folks, I suppose. Cast iron definitely has its place, but I've fried chicken in both cast iron and Farberware, and I've consistently gotten better results with the Farberware. Plus, dealing with a cast-iron pan full of used oil is no picnic.
As I mentioned, I don't use a thermometer, so I don't know what the oil temperature is before I put the chicken in, after it's gone in, or at any time during the process. So I have no idea how much the oil temperature falls in Farberware versus cast iron, or whether that's even a major issue. Out of curiosity, maybe I'll throw a thermometer in there next time I make it to see what my oil temp is. I'm guessing it's well below 350.
That's the way my friend has always done it, because she claims that it gets the chicken cleaner, tightens up the skin, and washes away some of the gamey flavor and smell. My friend is African-American, and when we've discussed cooking with one of our mutual friends, who's also African-American, both of them have said that it's necessary, whenever cooking poultry, to wash it in white vinegar first, because it's better than water at removing germs.
There's a post on this topic here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/278783.
I struggled with fried chicken for a long time before a friend of mine showed me how to do it. She's been making fried chicken for about 40 years, and her family's originally from Kentucky. It turns out that it's pretty easy, and doesn't require any special techniques or equipment, even so much as a thermometer. Start to finish takes less than an hour. I've found this to make crispy, flavorful chicken with a moist interior, and everyone I've made it for has loved it.
-- Cut up a chicken (around 3-1/2 lbs. is fine) into ten pieces. This includes two legs, two thighs, two wings, and four breast pieces created by cutting each half of the breast into two pieces, each about the size of a thigh.
-- Put the chicken into a big bowl in the sink and wash well with copious amounts of white vinegar. Rinse well with cold water to get all the vinegar off, and pat each piece dry with paper towels.
-- Put the pieces on a cutting board, and sprinkle both sides liberally with a mix of salt, pepper, seasoned salt, and a little paprika. Onion powder, cayenne, or other spices may be added according to your preferences. You can mix the ingredients beforehand and keep them in one of those pizza restaurant cheese shakers, which makes the sprinkling much easier.
-- Coat the pieces with flour. My friend uses a medium-sized paper bag for this, but I put three or four scoops of flour into one of those glass containers with a locking plastic lid, and shake two pieces at a time. Shake off excess flour. Put the coated pieces onto a cooling rack over a cookie sheet and let them sit while you heat up the oil.
-- Get out a 12" pan, put it on the stove, and fill it with about 3/4" of canola oil. I know a lot of people swear by cast iron, but I prefer not to use it; because it's so difficult to regulate the temperature of a cast iron skillet, you run the very real risk of getting the cooking oil too hot, which can cause the chicken to burn on the outside while leaving the inside undercooked. So, I use my trusty old 12" Farberware frying pan, which has deep, straight sides, and which adjusts more quickly to changes in the flame.
-- Put the stove on high. Don't worry about measuring the oil temp; I just wait about seven minutes and sprinkle a little flour on the oil. If the flour dances, you're good to go.
-- Using tongs, put five pieces in the oil, meaty side down. It makes no difference which pieces, or where they're placed in the pan. Cover with a splatter screen. After a minute or so, wiggle the pieces a bit with the tongs to make sure they're not stuck to the bottom. Turn the temp down after a couple of minutes so that the chicken keeps frying along at a good clip but not so intensely that it's going to burn. Again, oil that's too hot is as bad for the chicken as oil that's too cold, so you've got to find that sweet spot right in the middle. After about seven minutes, check the underside of each piece, which should be a nice golden brown. Flip each piece and let cook for another seven minutes.
-- At this point (about 14-15 minutes), the chicken should be done. If you see some pieces floating before this time (usually wings), they're probably already done. To make sure that they're done, pierce each piece with a two-pronged meat fork. If it goes through easily, the piece is done. If you encounter resistance, the piece needs a little more time. Be careful not to fry the pieces too much longer than this; you don't want the chicken to be overcooked, and remember, the chicken is going to keep cooking for several minutes after you take it out of the pan. I pierce each piece with the meat fork, and if it goes through cleanly, I pull it right out with the fork. Let each piece rest on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet.
-- Repeat with the other five pieces. The pieces should rest for at least 10-15 minutes after being removed from the pan.
OK, now you've got fried chicken. Easy, simple, and delicious. Once you discover how easy it is, you'll want to make it all the time (which I guess might not be such a good thing).