Flip to any food channel and you’re bound to see some sort of contest filled with a lively host and even more colorful characters. From children hustling around the kitchen, trying to avoid burning themselves as they produce a meal in thirty minutes, to adults entering a bidding war to avoid finding themselves cooking blindfolded with their arms behind their backs, the cooking channel has a little something for everyone these days. And despite my general aversion to reality television, the Food Network has it right. These cooking shows are entertaining, mildly insane, and impressive to boot.
Not being a great cook myself, I fully appreciate what the chefs on these shows go through, but that’s just it—they’re chefs. Professionals of their field. Yet when I recently found myself watching an episode of Chopped, wherein the contestants were three firemen and one firewoman, I admit myself stunned. Not only do these men and women fight for our continued safety, but man-oh-man they can cook.
As I mentioned previously, in a separate post, the need to maintain a wholesome diet, while reaching a high caloric intake a day is essential to keeping their bodies operating at full speed. Additionally, the meals that firefighters consume in their firehouses are prepared—can you guess—by none other than the firefighters themselves. If you enter a firehouse at mealtime, you’d be prepared to see a kitchen filled with fighters, voices loud and movements bustling. It’s a time of camaraderie, happiness, and a hearty home cooked meal.
Here I say, the homier the better. The firehouse is a second (and sometimes first) home for our firefighters, and so the desire to eat food that reminds them of home is poignant. A decent home cooked meal can have a firefighter feeling content and right at home in little to no time at all. For those of you, seeking a satisfying home cooked meal, one that requires little prep, and can be dropped at the sound of an alarm (for more on that, visit this post here) then this is the meal for you.
The Fireman’s Sloppy-Joe
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 lb ground sweet sausage
- ½ lb ground beef
- 8 oz canned tomato sauce
- 1 sm yellow onion
- 1 red pepper, sliced (for a spicier pepper search for a pepper with three lobes, not four)
- 1 green pepper, sliced (for a spicier pepper search for a pepper with three lobes, not four)
- Sliced provolone cheese
- French rolls (enough to feed your crew)
- 7qt crock-pot (the bigger, the better!)
Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a large pan. Once brought to medium heat add in the sausage and beef, letting it brown in the olive oil—do not overcook! Keep the sausage a little pink; it will continue to cook in the crock-pot. Add your browned meat to the crock-pot, keeping sure to place it on the bottom so that it finishes cooking. Add tomato sauce, chopped onion, and bell peppers to your sausage mixture and cook on low for 5-7 hours.
Fifteen minutes before serving, slice your French rolls in half, add your provolone, and toast in the oven until golden brown (the cheese should be starting to melt). Add a heaping dollop of your sausage mixture to your rolls, tuck in your bib, and enjoy.
This meal is both extremely filling, and easy to prepare. The added perk of using a crock-pot allows you to leave and come back when needed, but will also limit not only the busy work on your end, but clean up as well. With this recipe, be prepared to be a hit with your firefighter brothers and sisters—and be prepared to double or triple the recipe, depending on how hungry everyone in the house is. While this meal might not land you a winning spot on Top Chef next season, it’ll definitely get the crowd cheering where it matters, and always remember: if all else fails, at least you’ll have the warm feeling of home to settle the score.
 Adapted from the Food Network’s Roman Sausage Sandwich