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Calen's Illinois Sausage Hot Pot

By Craig Nelson

At the time of the last article, I was “carb loading” with that great recipe from Marietta, Georgia, in preparation for Fargo preflood sandbagging operations. I definitely accomplished the “carb loading” mission and now am ready for my six-day stint at “Sandbag Central.” The City of Fargo is well underway preparing for a very possible record spring flood. Nearly two million sandbags have been made using three gigantic spider machines (the name comes from the 12 shoots on the machine that give it a spider-like appearance). Each machine dumps sand from a dump truck onto a conveyor belt carrying the sand up to a large bowl at the top and then dumps one bag worth of sand about every five to 10 seconds into each of the 12 chutes to eagerly and sometimes surprised workers/volunteers. At this point, if they are ready it becomes a sandbag; if they are not ready, it becomes a large sand pile at their feet. Each shoot and the accompanying four to six workers/volunteers working it can load a pallet with around a hundred bags in about 10 minutes! Although I already “carb loaded,” I’m going with the theory that it must still be important to maintain high energy levels while making sandbags for long work shifts at such a rapid pace, thus requiring more fuel for my body (in appropriate portions, of course). Well, maybe a little bit more than appropriate.

To help maintain my energy level and the energy levels of all you in the fire service dealing with daily emergencies, Calen Edgar from Oakland, Illinois, has sent in his hot pot sausage recipe. As I have always tried to stress with this column, this also gives crews a chance sit down and eat together, even if it is only for a short time period between the tones going off. To all the newer crew members, this is also a great place to find proven recipes that may reduce your chances of a kitchen catastrophe and help win over your whole crew. In this case, you can tell Calen’s Illinois Hot Pot must be a great recipe because he says “the plates are licked clean.” The other great part about the dishes being licked clean is that there is less cleanup after the meal. Wow, a recipe that just keeps on giving!

Calen has been a member of a small volunteer fire and EMS department in Oakland for five years. The young crew he works with must be wise beyond their years because they already attempt to meet as often as they can for meals. At 26, Calen is the “old man” among his group of young 20- to 21-year-old fellow EMT-Bs. Calen also works as a paramedic in Decatur, Illinois, to help pay for more fire training. 

Calen’s Illinois Sausage Hot Pot


Utensils: skillet, knife, large cook pot with lid, cook spoon

2 lbs ground pork sausage (the hotter the better)
several cans of chicken broth (low sodium), enough to fill a large cook pot halfway
1 medium onion
1 can of beans (your choice)
1 package frozen broccoli
4 cups shredded cheese (colby/jack and Parmesan)
1 bag baby carrots
1-2 tomatoes
1 green bell pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 cup bacon (cooked)
1 box dry pasta (your choice)
"dash" of black pepper


Fry sausage in skillet until brown, while bringing pot of broth to boil.
Add pasta to broth and cook until al dente.
Turn heat down; do not drain pasta.
Drain sausage and add to pot.
Dice veggies and bacon; add to pot.
Cover, simmer for 5-10 minutes; add beans (wet).
Simmer on low-med heat for 10-15 minutes.
Take off heat; stir in cheese, pepper, and flour.
Eat immediately or leave in fridge to season until dinner.

*Usually served with hot biscuits and salad 

Ease: of preparation: Easy, especially with some crew help
Time:  About 1 hour
Cost:  About $7.00 per person
Feeds: Around 4-5 crew members


I am always looking for more recipes. Anyone can submit one, and you do not need to be a star chef. If your crew enjoys it, then I and many others would love to try it. Please share your creations with other firefighters by sending in your favorite recipe. Each article contains a quick introduction to those submitting the recipe, their department, their recipe, and any stories that may surround the legendary dishes. Send recipes and photos of the finished dish to firestationcooking@gmail.com. Please also include your name and e-mail address.

Eat together when you are able, and stay safe out there!

Craig Nelson has been in the fire service for nine years, working as a volunteer, paid-on-call, and a full-time firefighter/EMT. He works for the Fargo (ND) Fire Department and works part-time at Minnesota State Community and Technical College--Moorhead as a fire instructor. He also works seasonally for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as a wildland firefighter in Northwest Minnesota. Previously, he was an airline pilot. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in executive fire service leadership.


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