As I have shared on more than one occasion, my SH and I are occasionally blessed with the presence of his childhood best friend J, whom I fondly refer to as Joey for all intensive purposes. Those of you who were faithful and loyal Friends fans will understand quite a bit about our Joey-in the stucklikeglue to Chandler and Monica way, NOT in the intelligence arena! During our three years in New York, we were able to see him all the time, practically on a daily basis. In fact, one of my fave stories is the night we woke to strange noises, only to find J in our bathroom-he had a long road home to Brooklyn that night, and was in the neighborhood...why not? The fact that we weren't at all surprised should tell you a lot about him.
One of our favorite things to do together is cook, huge dinners that are more comfort food than fancy, employing the freshest and best ingredients we can find. There has been roasted chicken, with golden crackling skin enhanced by fresh herbs, accompanied by rosemary-garlic mashed potatoes, skins on. Pulled pork doused in chili and bbq sauce and piled into soft corn tortillas. Huge green salads with tiny sliced cherry tomatoes, diced celery and red peppers, roasted corn, pine nuts, and tangy crumbles of goat cheese...agh, come back already, J!
In all of our cooking lessons/adventures, nothing could possibly beat our roast pork evenings. I use the plural because we went through a stage (rather, J went through a stage) in NY when chutney became an obsession. We tried all kinds, pear, apple...each time, miraculously, our chutney was delicious, the perfect accompaniment to a roast pork loin. J would sear the pork on all sides, use twine to attach fresh sage or rosemary for flavor, let it roast for a while, and as a decadent step, would wrap the pork in bacon for its final minutes of cooking. As if roasted pork could get any better, right? We'd serve the pork with a slew of roasted vegetables, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms... usually we'd toss them right in the roasting pan with the pork towards the end of cooking. Our side dish was one of my beloveds, Brussels sprouts sauteed with bacon. J or my SH would tend to the pork, slicing off thick, steaming pieces fragrant with herbs. We'd slather our pork with spicy chutney, take generous scoops of roasted vegetables, and fight over who got the most Brussels sprouts (me, always me). The meal usually took hours, and eventually we'd retire from the table to the living room, sprawling out on the couch or chairs for a movie or game of Monopoly. Pure heaven, I tell you. You can imagine my happiness when we were able to recreate our roasted pork night last weekend, heralding the (finally!) fall-ish weather with the perfectly autumnal meal.
Pretty much everything J has come up from the top of his head (he's one of those, who doesn't need recipes) has been divine, a delicious combination of pure, fresh flavor. I'm so glad that I can occasionally be his sous-chef, a position I found myself in again just last weekend when we were the recipients of an impromptu visit. J is now residing in LA, only a quick flight away. Not quite the same distance as a quick subway ride, but it's definitely the next best thing.