As members of the fire service, I think we can all agree that one of the finest aspects of our profession is the camaraderie and unity we share as a brotherhood/sisterhood. We spend one-third of our lives together in our fire houses, away from our homes, families and friends. Inevitably, when most people are off work, at some point in our careers, we will be required to work during holiday seasons. It’s not just major marked holidays – our call of duty often disrupts life’s other celebrations. We make the best of every situation, and we do this by honouring the importance of life’s occasions by celebrating them together in our fire halls. If we cannot be with family and friends for holidays and special occasions, we can rely on our fire-hall families to help celebrate the important days in our lives. Bringing your crew together in the kitchen to create a special occasion fire-hall feast can often satisfy the possible unease of being away from home. Festive Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners, Easter brunches, themed holiday menus, or your favourite birthday spread will bring a sense of home to you and your fire-hall family.
Last year, my platoon was scheduled to work on Super Bowl Sunday. This is definitely a day in the calendar year that most people spend enjoying the game with family, friends and neighbours. Our game plan at Waterloo Fire Rescue was to have a super-sized potluck dinner celebration. Each member of the platoon brought a favourite dish to the table. The menu ranged from items as simple (and hilarious) as a potato chip salad, to the classic homemade mac and cheese, to the other end of the gourmet spectrum with a lobster and jalapeno dip and Jamaican-jerked baby back ribs. The result was a fire house full of satisfied, elated firefighters who still got to enjoy the grandeur of Super Bowl Sunday. Good food and good friends – it’s the classic recipe for a perfect family celebration, and despite being at work, our firefighters all got to experience that. Having everyone prepare a dish also brought laughs, a little friendly competition, and the all-important unity that is so important in our line of work.
The recipes I’ve included are Super Bowl party-inspired, and would be a great addition to any Super Sunday, regardless of which family you are spending it with.
|Photo by Patrick Mathieu
Buffalo chicken corn chowder
4 tbsp butter
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 onions, diced
- 3 carrots, diced
- 3 stalks of celery, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 12 cups quality chicken stock
- 2 cups half-and-half cream
- 5 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 cups peaches and cream corn, frozen
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
- 4 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts
- 1 bottle Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 12 oz blue cheese, crumbled
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 tsp liquid smoke
- Heat two tablespoons of the butter and one tablespoon of olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook until the vegetables are good and soft, eight to 10 minutes.
- Dust the vegetables with flour and stir to coat everything well. Pour in the chicken stock, stir well, and bring to a boil.
- Add the potatoes, and reduce heat to medium/low so soup is simmering.
- Simmer until the potatoes break down (this will help to thicken the soup and give it a good texture).
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place chicken pieces on a cookie sheet and rub with extra-virgin olive oil. Season liberally with fresh ground pepper and sea salt.
- Place in heated oven for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked all the way through. When finished, remove chicken and tent loosely with foil for 10 minutes, allowing the chicken to cool.
- Heat a large sauté pan containing two tablespoons of butter, and sauté garlic until soft and fragrant, about two minutes. Add the bottle of Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce to the pan and simmer.
- When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove skin, and pull chicken from the bone. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and add it to the sauté pan. Toss to make sure the chicken is well coated with the sauce. Add the chicken and sauce to the soup pot.
- Add the corn kernels and cream to the soup pot. Season with salt and pepper and simmer until the corn is soft, and the cream heated through, about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with fresh parsley and crumbled blue cheese. Enjoy!
|Photo by Patrick Mathieu
Brisket and brat chili
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp dry mustard
- 1 bay leaf, crushed
- 4 lbs beef brisket, trimmed
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 tsp liquid smoke
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Make a dry rub by combining chili powder, garlic and onion powders, black pepper, sugar, dry mustard and bay leaf. Season the raw brisket on both sides with the rub. Place in a roasting pan and roast, uncovered, for one hour.
Add beef stock and liquid smoke. Lower oven to 275 F, cover pan tightly and continue cooking for four hours, or until fork-tender. Remove and allow resting for 30 minutes. Slice into one-inch slices against the grain, and then cube into bite-sized pieces.
To finish the chili:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 jalapenos, minced (about 2 tbsp)
- 2 onions, diced (about 2 cups)
- 1 head garlic, minced (about 1/4 cup)
- 2 lbs Johnsonville Brats meat, removed from casing
- 2 tsp granulated onion
- 2 tsp granulated garlic
- 3 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp hot paprika
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 28-oz cans diced tomato – with juice
- 1 cup tomato paste
- 4 cups quality beef stock
- 2 (15.5-oz) cans black beans, drained
- 2 (15.5-oz) cans kidney beans, drained
- In large stock pot over medium heat add olive oil.
- Add celery, carrot, jalapeno and onion, and cook until caramelized, about five minutes. Add garlic and sauté a minute longer.
- Add brat meat and cook until nicely browned and fully cooked through, about seven to 10 minutes.
- Add brisket, diced tomatoes with their juice and tomato paste; stir well to combine. Cook for 5 minutes to allow flavours to marry.
- Stir in beef stock and the beans and bring to a gentle boil.
- Add in granulated onions and garlic, chili powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne, and pepper and cook for one minute.
- Lower heat and simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally.
- Garnish with your favourite cheese and chopped green onion. Enjoy!
Patrick Mathieu is an 11-year veteran of Waterloo Fire Rescue. He has won several cooking competitions and has helped raise thousands of dollars for charities by auctioning gourmet dinners at the fire hall. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org