Firehouse (Braised) Chicken

I have a good friend who was once in an airplane that crashed. He was 18 and knew he was lucky to be alive. Most people would have never flown again. He learned to fly. That really sums up his approach to life. There is no such thing as impossible or too big or crazy. All goals are achievable if they are worth being goals. He never says anything like this, but after seeing how he lives his life, I know it to be true.

After a stint in the army and several short careers that mainly rotated around photography and film, he settled in to a life of professional flying. He now flies helicopters for the fire department. While you and I are filling out spreadsheets or fixing car bumpers he is hoisting people off the sides of mountains and flying them to the hospital. When wildfires encroach our homes, we pack up a few items and evacuate while he flies directly into the fire and drops water on it. He saves lives for a living.

Whenever I say, “Are you working tomorrow?” his response is always the same:
“It’s not really work, it’s pay for play.” So he saves lives for a living and enjoys it immensely. What he doesn’t say is that every time he straps into that helicopter he risks his life. Whenever he takes off he never takes for granted returning. As a daily practice he puts his life on the line so a little girl that was hit by a car can get to the hospital more quickly than by car, or some nut-bag who got drunk and fell down a cliff can live to do some other stupid stunt. There is no difference to him. They are human and they all deserve to live. If he can do something to help he will.

I thank him every now and then. You know, just out of the blue. We don’t make a big deal about it, but he knows what I mean. We are reminded today that nearly 400 firefighters and police lost their lives on this day 11 years ago. And every single day those people in uniform here at home risk their lives so you and I can live to do something stupid, or great. You don’t have to do it today, but the next time you are by the firehouse just pop your head in and say thank you. They’ll know what you mean.

This is a great dish to make when you might be doing something else (like putting out a fire).


  • 8 Chicken Thighs (and/or breasts)
  • 1 Large Onion, chopped
  • 2 Carrots, chopped
  • 2 Celery Stalks, chopped
  • 1 Fennel Bulb, cleaned and chopped
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Can Chicken Broth
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 2 Sprigs Rosemary and Thyme
  • Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt and Pepper


  • Heavy Duty, Large Pot (Dutch Oven)
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Slotted Spoon
  • Wooden Spoon
  1. Chop all of your vegetables.
  2. Wash and pat dry chicken. If you like breasts, substitute 1 breast for every 2 thighs.
  3. Salt and pepper chicken.
  4. Over medium-high heat, warm about 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  5. Add the chicken and brown it for about 8-10 minutes on each side.
  6. Remove with a slotted spoon.
  7. Add a little more olive oil to the pan.
  8. Turn heat down to medium and add the vegetables. Sauté until they start to soften. About 10 minutes.
  9. Add the chicken back and stir.
  10. Pour the chicken broth in and add just enough water to cover.
  11. Add the cayenne and herbs.
  12. Bring to boil then turn to simmer. Cover loosely as you want the liquid to reduce by at least half.
  13. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the chicken is completely cooked.
  14. Taste the broth, adjust seasonings and add the lemon zest.

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