In the kitchen, that is!

Firefighters at the Lee’s Summit Fire House usually spend their days cooling things down, but they know the value of sharing a meal together at their table and have amped up their cooking skills to tempt every palate.

Not only do they perform heroic duty 24/7, but these firefighters cook up some amazing grub in the meantime. They have shared their go-to recipes that get rave reviews every time they are served.

After Hours Firefighter Drew Figlo (A-Shift)

Tell me who cooks at your fire station. Who really makes it their goal to feed everybody…and why?

I make it a priority to cook something that everyone will enjoy because growing up in my Italian family, feeding people, or over-feeding people, is how you showed that you cared about them.

 What is the most valuable thing about sharing a meal together for you all?

Sharing a meal consistently is (and always will be) the sign of a healthy family. Your company is your family. The more things we can do together as a company, the better. 

Why do you like to cook?

I like to cook because a great meal with good company is one of the greatest blessings we have in life. It’s where we laugh, tell stories, and share ideas. 

Any funny thing that has happened while someone is grilling/cooking/boiling?

One thing I always thought was funny when cooking is when Duke would watch me cook. I cooked for a living before I was a firefighter and grew up in New Jersey for most of my life. So some of things I cooked a good ol’ Missouri boy has never seen before. I was just sautéing some fresh spinach and Duke was like, “What are you making? Fried salad?” No Duke it’s just spinach.

 

Fire Specialist Tyler Comfort (B-Shift)

 

Tell me who cooks at your fire station. Who really makes it their goal to feed everybody…and why?

I do all of the cooking at my station on my shift. I enjoy cooking, and I know if I do it then we can actually eat something edible at a decent time lol.

What is the most valuable thing about sharing a meal together for you all?

Dinner time at the firehouse is more important than just filling our stomachs. This is the time where we get to bond and talk shop. We share old stories, talk about the old-timers who no longer work with us, pass down advice to our newer members, and air concerns/grievances within our company.

Why do you like to cook?

I enjoy cooking because it’s something I’ve done since I was a child. I used to cook with my mom and grill with my dad. I’ve worked at numerous restaurants and was a full-time butcher before joining the fire service. The biggest reason I like to cook at the firehouse is because I know it will be something I want to eat, and I can control the ingredients.

Any funny thing that has happened while someone is grilling/cooking/boiling?

There have been plenty of slip-ups in the kitchen in the department over the years. I’ve heard stories of guys setting the smoker on fire, trying to shred raw chicken, cracking eggs to scramble but leaving all of the broken shells in it, and using powdered sugar on accident instead of flour while trying to make gravy (which turned into icing instead.) 

  

 Firefighter/Paramedic Neil MacEachern (C-Shift)

 

Tell me who cooks at your fire station. Who really makes it their goal to feed everybody…and why?

A lot of times it falls on whoever is assigned the firefighter position on the pumper. I cook to implement my favorite tweaks to traditional dishes. Dinner sometimes resembles an uninspired college path, a major in general meats with a minor in healthiness. 

What is the most valuable thing about sharing a meal together for you all?

Time in the firehouse is hectic. We never know when there will be calls. You are with a company 24 hours several times a week, and you become family. I believe family dinner gathering is a powerful bond builder, and despite a person’s attitude, the presence and availability of connecting can diffuse stored stress and improve mental balance needed in this type of job. 

Why do you like to cook?

I like to cook because I find many foods are inedible not cooked. I’m not alone here. Cooking can be as simple as adding flavor to something, but you will learn which foods should be heated up a little, like chicken, and which foods don’t require baking, like watermelon. 

Any funny thing that has happened while someone is grilling/cooking/boiling?

Dinner can be a symphony of chaos. The entire company is sent on a call in the middle of cooking. Is everything turned off? Who might return first? What did the chef plan to do with this half-finished meal?  Many meals are burnt or finished with no idea what the original plan was. One time when I cooked chicken Philly sandwiches, I laid a base of creamy horseradish sauce to seat the chicken, not realizing how spicy it was. There were plenty of sweating faces fighting to enjoy their sandwiches. 

 

Firefighter Drew Figlo (A-Shift)

Steak Night Chimichurri Sauce

 

Ingredients:

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 jalapenos, minced

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 handful fresh oregano, finely chopped

2 limes, juiced

1 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns

4 pounds skirt steak, trimmed of excess fat

Extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions:

Combine garlic, jalapeno and vinegar in a bowl. Stir in parsley, oregano and lime juice. Whisk in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside at room temperature to allow the flavors to marry. Marinate steak in olive oil for 30 minutes, turning to coat both sides. Preheat an outdoor charcoal grill or oven broiler to high. Remove steak from oil and season both sides with a generous amount of salt and pepper; you should see the seasoning on the meat. Grill steaks on the hottest part of the barbecue for 4 minutes per side, until well charred. Transfer steak to a cutting board and let stand for five minutes. Cut steak across the grain on the diagonal and fan slices out on a platter. Spoon some chimichurri over meat and serve with remaining sauce at the table.

 

Fire Specialist Tyler Comfort (B-Shift)– 

It’s hard to pick just one favorite meal I enjoy cooking, but one that seems to be a fan favorite would be my Chicken Marsala.

 

Chicken Marsala

 

Ingredients: 

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 package cherry tomatoes 

Fresh basil leaves 

1 package mushrooms

1 yellow onion

1 bottle Marsala cooking wine

Minced garlic

1 small container heavy cream

1 package Italian cheese

3 eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 cups flour

Salt

Pepper

Sugar 

 

Directions:

Mix oil, eggs, and flour until dough is the right consistency. You may need to add some cold water if dough is too dry, or more flour if dough is too sticky. Knead dough for about five minutes, then cover with a towel and let rest for 30 minutes. Roll dough out flat and cut into desired pasta shape. Cut up veggies and sauté in pan with entire bottle of Marsala cooking wine. Sauté until veggies are cooked, then drop heat to low and add heavy cream. Season with salt, pepper, sugar and minced garlic to taste. Bring pot of water to boil, then slowly add your fresh pasta. Because the pasta is fresh and not dehydrated, it will cook very quickly (about two minutes or less). Grill chicken breasts; cut into slices. Strain pasta; serve in bowl, top with pasta sauce, then chicken slices. Garnish with fresh Italian cheese. 

 

Firefighter/Paramedic Neil MacEachern (C-Shift)

This has been well received in the firehouse.  It’s pretty simple, and not too expensive, though I admit that the recipe is mostly inspired by a couple of recipes I have read about with some personal tweaks. 

 

Neil’s Chicken Tacos

 

Ingredients:

5 fresh jalapenos

One head purple cabbage

Cilantro

Chicken (1/2 lb. per person at least)

Flour tortillas

Panko Italian bread crumbs

Monterey Jack shredded cheese

Honey

Lemon juice

Salt, pepper and garlic powder

Flour

Barbecue sauce

Brown sugar

 

Directions:

Chicken: Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut chicken into 1 ½ inch to 2-inch nuggets.  Set up a dredging station.  Add flour, salt, and pepper to the chicken and coat them.  Whisk eggs and  ½ cup water into separate bowl.  Add panko into yet another bowl.  Dip each chicken piece into the eggs and then into the panko.  Place evenly on parchment-lined baking sheet.  Cook for approximately 20 minutes or until light golden brown and the biggest piece of chicken is cooked. 

Barbecue sauce: (This handles 3 lbs. of chicken) In a small saucepan add about two cups of your favorite barbecue sauce.  Add 4-5 teaspoons brown sugar.  Add lemon juice and garlic powder.  Add a small amount of sriracha sauce if you want to add some spice.  Bring to a simmer and stir.  Add some salt and pepper.  Estimate how much you will need to coat the tops of the finished chicken and add barbecue sauce, if needed. Add the coating to the chicken when the chicken is finished.

Jalapeno sauce:  Gut the jalapenos and add into a blender. Add 2 tablespoons mayo, garlic powder, lemon juice, honey and a small amount of horseradish sauce if you have it. Blend into a sauce. Tweak as desired.

Prepare: Serve with chopped cabbage, Monterey jack cheese, cilantro and the jalapeno sauce on a flour tortilla.  A great side is chips and salsa.