Roasted Chicken and Pork with Buttermilk Dumplings


 Life and love

of home-style dumplings

this is the type of dumplings I’m talking about

– not to confuse with this kind of dumpling

In the south, much like elsewhere in the world I suppose, when we hear of a death in a friend’s family or an aunt, uncle or cousin in our own, we get to cooking. It is a custom in many communities, townships and cities of all sizes. There are some folks I know that will make the same dish, as a rite of duty, to take to the grieving family. Be it a certain family’s namesake casserole, a certain vegetable from their garden, a cherished pie from dear great great grand or a newfangled jello pudding stack layered cake; it doesn’t matter, it is all appreciated.

I had to think about what I wanted to cook when I learned the mother of a coworker passed, a gracious soul still spirited at ninety-seven years. Family was important to her, and her kitchen was the pride of her family, the soul of its unity, at least until she reached a point that she had to give up her love for cooking. I’m talking about good, wholesome cooking, the way a young girl was reared during the twenties and through the Great Depression, learning the fundamentals of finger licking southern home-style and deep reaching soul food way of cookery. That is the kind of cooking that rekindles me each time I think of it, every time I make and with every bite of my enjoyment.

Our family normally sends our hefty pound cake to the bereaving family’s home. Something told me this time my efforts should reflect a different spirit. After much thought, I chose an old recipe from our family cookbook but I changed it up a bit by roasting the pork and chicken along with the vegetables that made the stock deeper, something I think brought about a much richer depth. Something just told me this family would appreciate the extra effort and the home-style taste of pork with the chicken and dumplings. Later, as I handed over my dish along with a couple pans of cornbread muffins, it was told to me of the funeral plans to celebrate the life of this dear mother. Yes, a celebration of the living and of a time to rejoice; of the planning for a reunion that will occur later at the end of our lives as well. I was also told of how long it had been since they had enjoyed a plate of dumplings, several years in fact, since their mother became convalescent.

Now as you look at the photos of the recipe in progress, know that I doubled the recipe when I made it; one to take to our friend’s family and one for us to enjoy as well. Like all homey, good recipes, this took a little time to develop with the several stages of cooking so know that you will spend most of an afternoon in the kitchen. But when it came together, oh my goodness, I knew it was something special, for I do believe I had a little guidance in it’s doing. Hope you try it, hopefully for a celebration of another rejoicing occasion. Enjoy!

Roasted Chicken and Pork  
with Buttermilk Dumplings and Gravy
serves 10-12

for the roasted chicken:
1 -3 to 3.5 pound whole chicken
3 tablespoons EV olive oil
1/2 teaspoon thyme powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
juice of 1 lemon
2 small sprigs of fresh rosemary ( or 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, ground in a mortar)
2 carrots, cut in half
2 celery stalks, cut in half
1 large white onion, cut in eights
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced

for the chicken stock:
reserved strained pan drippings from roasted chicken plus water to make 2 quarts
roasted vegetables from the roasted chicken
2 garlic pods
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
carcass from the baked chicken
salt and pepper to taste

for the roasted pork:
1 -3 to 4 pound pork shoulder blade roast, cut into 2-inch wide slices
2 tablespoons EV olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon no-salt Creole seasoning
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

for the buttermilk dumplings:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup of cold whole buttermilk
1 tablespoon or more chicken stock (cooled down)

for the dumpling gravy:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 celery stalk, small diced
1 large carrot, small diced
2 garlic toes, minced
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 cups strained chicken stock
1/4 cup small diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup buttermilk

Begin by prepping the chicken by removing the giblets and neck from inside the cavity. Save for making the stock if desired. Cut away visible fat from the chicken and rinse chicken under running water. Pat completely dry with paper towels and place in a roasting pan.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Combine the olive oil, thyme, salt, pepper, garlic and lemon juice in a small bowl. Rub mixture covering the outside and under the skin on the breast and thigh area.
Place a sprig of rosemary in the cavity and break the other one in half. Place under the skin on the breast. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine and place the vegetables around the chicken with the breast side up.

Place roaster in the oven.
Roast in the oven for 1 hour or until thigh meat hits around 150 degrees on a meat thermometer. It is okay to just under-cook the chicken as it will go thorough another cooking phase and besides, you want the fibers to be nice and limber, not tough and stringy.

Allow to cool to touch and discard skin. De-bone the chicken reserving the carcass, the roasted vegetables and saving the pan drippings as well. Put chicken meat aside in the refrigerator until ready to add to gravy later.

While the chicken is cooling down to de-bone. cook the pork. Reduce oven to 350 degrees F,
Wash the pork strips and pat dry with paper towels.
Combine the olive oil, salt, pepper, creole seasoning and garlic in a small bowl. Rub mixture coating the pork.
Place in the oven and cook for 1 hour.
Drain off the liquid and flip the strips over. Cook another 30 minutes to brown.
Remove and let cool.
De-bone and cut the meat into 1/4-inch slices.

Cover pork and keep warm.

Meanwhile, make the chicken stock by adding pan drippings with enough water to make 2 quarts. Add this to a large stockpot along with the roasted vegetables, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, parsley and the carcass (minus any skin). Bring to a simmer over medium high heat then reduce to low. Simmer for about an hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste towards the end. Strain broth through a fine mesh wire colander reserving the liquid and discarding the solids.

Make the dumplings by combining the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add the oil and buttermilk and stir until moistened. Add enough chicken broth to form a soft dough. Turn dough onto a floured surface and form into a ball.
Roll dough to 1/16-inch thickness and cut into 1-inch wide strips. Cut these strips into about 3-inch lengths.Place on a lightly floured pan until ready to add to the gravy mixture.

You can use the same stockpot to make the gravy or sauce if desired, just rinse it out and wipe away any scum accumulated around the sides. Melt the butter with the oil over medium high heat and add the celery and carrot cooking for about 2 minutes.

Add the garlic cooking until fragrant. Stir in the flour and allow to simmer for about 2 minutes stirring to lift the flour from the bottom. Add the reserved chicken stock, about 1 cup at a time stirring to until it comes back to a simmer after each addition. Continue to add stock until gravy is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. I only used about 5 1/2 cups. Stir in the heavy cream, buttermilk and red bell pepper. Allow to come back to a simmer before adding the roasted pork. Simmer pork for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the chicken and allow to come to a low simmer.

During this time, you can also cook the dumplings by bringing remaining chicken stock along with about 1 quart of water to a gentle boil. Add dumplings one at a time.
Cook gently stirring occasionally to keep the dumplings from sticking together. Cook for about 30 minutes or until the dumplings are swollen and cooked through, yet still firm to the touch. Strain dumplings from liquid. You may save the liquid in case you need it to add it to the gravy although I did not.

Place the dumplings into the stockpot with the chicken and pork gravy mixture. Stir gently and heat over low heat. Place in a large server if desired and keep warm until time to serve.

Note: For presentation, I removed the chicken breast meat before de-boning and after reheating, sliced it thin to serve on top of the dumplings.

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