If you have been following my blog at all and have used my recipes, you probably have noticed that the quantities of food that I prepare for 8 to 10 people are large. There are a couple of reasons for this. One obvious reason is that the seven guys I work with on my shift are big boys and we work hard. It takes a decent quantity of good healthy food to keep our bodies fueled. Whether we are out inspecting buildings or hydrants, or running around on EMS calls, or, most obviously, fighting a fire, we need lots of energy to get the job done. Even when we have some free time, you’ll find firefighters working out and doing our best to keep fit for the job.
There is another reason I cook fairly large quantities of food that may not be so obvious. We need leftovers! There are many times that we’ll go to a job fighting fire at some ungodly hour during the night and, when we get back to the barn at two, three, or four in the morning, we find ourselves pretty hungry. If you are the first engine and truck companies in to a working structure fire, it means you will be the last ones to leave. Your hose is layed and your rig is the closest so most of the equipment used to fight the fire is from your rig. Once the fire is out, there is still an operational part of the job called “overhaul,” the systematic search for hidden fires or for fire extension. By the time the job is done and you finally leave the fire scene, several hours have gone by. There is nothing worse than getting back from a fire and finding the beanery fridge empty! So my goal is to make enough dinner to basically last all shift long!
If you find yourself not needing the quantity of food I have in my recipes, simply cut the quantities in half. You will find you still have enough for 4-5 firefighter appetites or even 5-6 non-firefighter appetites – plus leftovers! Here is a tasty pasta dish that is easy to reheat in the microwave for leftovers. Enjoy!
Suey’s Standpipe Sausage Pasta
By Michael “Suey” Sulak, Seattle Fire Department, Station 8, Ladder 6
2 lbs. Rigatoni pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ lb. guanciale (may substitute prosciutto or bacon), chopped
2 lbs. spicy bulk Italian sausage
1 sweet onion, chopped
6 large cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. fresh grape tomatoes, sliced in half length wise
1 12 oz. bag fresh baby spinach, loosely chopped
½ cup fresh basil, loosely chopped
1 14 ½ oz. can chicken broth
8 oz. mascarpone cheese at room temperature (may substitute cream cheese)
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup red wine
1 cup fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente (about 8 minutes). Strain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the chopped guanciale and cook until lightly browned. Add the sausage and cook through. Throw in the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent. Combine the grape tomatoes, baby spinach and fresh basil with the meat, and cook until the spinach is wilted.
In a separate saucepan, heat the chicken broth over medium-high heat. Just as it begins to come to a mild boil, add the mascarpone cheese and the red pepper flakes. Reduce the heat to low and whisk until the cheese is creamy. Remove from heat and add the red wine. Pour the contents of the sauce pan in with the meat and vegetables in the skillet.
Place the pasta in a large bowl and pour the skillet contents over the pasta. Toss the pasta and sprinkle with some of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Reserve the rest to serve on the side. 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.”