In some of my previous blog posts, I’ve mentioned that tradition is a big part of life in the Seattle Fire Department. Many departments across our fine land find that tradition plays an important role in their identity. We all have our various ways of doing things, whether it is on the fire ground or around the firehouse.
One of the traditions here in the SFD that many of my civilian friends find hard to understand revolves around birthdays and other significant milestones in a firefighter’s life. When your birthday comes around, you are the one expected to provide the dessert to celebrate the occasion. When I told my wife of 25 years this, she found it hard to understand. “They should be buying you dessert!” she said. But that is just not how it is done in the firehouse.
The same goes for milestones within the department, like when you reach five years, ten years, fifteen years, etc. Some guys just do the minimum and go buy a couple of tubs of ice cream and frozen pies. But that is often seen as a cop out since not much effort is really given to the gesture. One gets much more respect if you take a bit of time and effort into preparing a nice dessert.
So, I’m not going to leave you hanging. Here is a dessert that is something you won’t find in the local grocery store but will impress your crew at home or at work. Enjoy!
Suey’s Caliente Fried Bananas
By Michael “Suey” Sulak, Seattle Fire Department, Station 8, Ladder 6
1 lb. hickory smoked bacon, chopped
4 jalapeno peppers, stem removed and halved lengthwise
1 habanero pepper, stem removed and halved lengthwise
1 cup brandy
½ cup butter
8 firm bananas, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
3 quarts heavy cream
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups brown sugar, packed
4 teaspoons cinnamon
Chocolate syrup (optional)
Fry the chopped bacon in a skillet over medium high heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towel and set aside. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the skillet put it back on the heat.
Now sauté the peppers in the skillet for about 3 to 5 minutes to infuse the bacon grease with the hotness of the peppers. Then, using a slotted spoon, remove and discard the peppers. Add the brandy to the skillet to deglaze it. Be careful not to have the heat too high or you could have a nice flame roll up from the skillet. Add the butter.
When the butter is melted, add the bananas and cook until they are browned on both sides. Carefully remove them from the skillet and set them aside with the bacon strips.
Reduce the heat to low and slowly add the cream, using a whisk to stir constantly. Now add the rest of the ingredients and reduce liquid by ⅓ or until thick, stirring the whole time.
Place two fried banana slices into a bowl and cover with some of the cream sauce. Drizzle with some chocolate syrup (optional) and top with some fried chopped bacon. Makes 8 servings.
**Note: The term “Beanery” is still alive and well in the Seattle Fire Department and is still the name we apply to the kitchen today. Because of low wages early in SFD’s history, the firefighters could often only afford to buy beans for their meals. Beans were cheap and provided a high source of protein. The procedure was to soak the beans overnight and simmer them all day long in the kitchen…thus the term “Beanery.”