I rarely cook "mammalian" meat, but this is for a friend who really likes such recipes, and who is returning to Montréal soon after a long absence. Addressed above all to anyporters with a knowledge of Southern US and/or Soul Food cooking. I want to make this dish, with a slew of onions but no dairy, though butter to make a roux is ok. Could I substitute concentrated (homemade) poultry stock? Any other hints or ideas, including spices or herbs?
Oh, don't make it with milk or any dairy product! That is really basic home cooking.
This recipe pretty much covers it -- just leave out the buttermilk, which seems like lily-gilding anyway. It might add a subtle tang which, if you wished, you could mimic with a tiny spritz of lemon juice or little splash of nice vinegar. Or, rather than that, putting in a little curl of lemon peel might be nice and you could taste the sauce & pull out the peel before it put in more flavor than you wished.
That sounds great. I always have some lemons, also lemon juice and white-wine vinegar (bought cheap at Portuguese shops, but fine for this kind of recipe. It reminds me of some West African stews where there would never be milk or cream, just good stock. The wonderful cooks I've met from Senegal are supposedly Muslim (though not at all pious) but pork is not a meat eaten in their culture: they do almost exactly the same thing with chicken and fish. This should not be "hot" but I might add a bit of mild heat such as Portuguese piri-piri or some créole spice. Your recipe is also significantly less caloric than the one with cream or something similar.