When I was fresh out of the Acadamy and assigned to Ladder 7 in the city's North End the guys quickly learned that I had spent a lot of years working in area restaurants.
"Can you cook?"
"Get in the kitchen."
And that was that. For years I was the chief cook and bottle washer for eleven people. I quickly learned that the more complicated I made things the more complicated the complaints. The deeper I dug into Cheryl's recipe file the more trouble I would get into at work.
"What is this?"
"Broccoli rabi saute'd with andouille sausage on top of a bed of polenta, what does it look like?"
"Looks like something I left in the toilet Saturday Night."
Firefighters are not the most refined bunch. Hot and Alot is the favorite meal at the firehouse.
Here's one of my favorites that still appears at firehouses across the city:
-a shitload of hamburg
-a bunch of bread crumbs
-couple of eggs
-a few bags of frozen spinach
-a few bags of shredded cheddar
-a pound or two of sliced ham (prosciutto if you think you can get away with it)
-garlic powder (if you dare)
-onion salt (if you're getting a little crazy)
Mix the hamburg, bread crumbs and eggs with some seasonings. Mix it good, and make sure you wash your hands! Make eleven blobs of meat mixture, put them on a sheet pan. Form meat monsters into one pound blobs. Turn those blobs into loaves. Make a slice in the middle and stuff them with ham, cheese and spinach. Stick them in the oven at 350 and hope you don't catch a run. Take them out in an hour or so.
In the meantime throw a couple of bags of potatoes onto the table in the day room and scatter some potato peelers around. Put a big pan in the middle. When your slaves have finished peeling and cutting the potatoes, boil them until they are done. Drain, add six pounds of butter and a gallon of milk, sneak in some seasonings, because if you don't sneak them in somebody will complain, even though if you don't season them somebody else will complain. Find a good potato man and have him or her mash them up.
Heat up some gravy. Heaven forbid you forget the gravy! You could prepare a masterpiece, spend hours slaving in the kitchen, forget the gravy and what you will hear for the next half hour is not how wonderful and tasty the feast is, rather "Where's the Gravy!" will be your reward.
Stack eleven plates on the counter, put the bin of utensils next to the plates, place the vat of mashed potatoes next to the tray of Meat Monsters, followed by the gravy and get on the PA system and say the magic words:
*book news coming…