By Frank E. Vaerewyck, The Firehouse Foodie
Fitness in the fire service is paramount. Now I’m not saying that all firefighters have to be so fit they look like they just stepped out of a calendar, but this job does take a toll on your body. There is a public image ingrained into the mind’s eye, and this image is perpetuated by the way we live our lives. Fitness and good nutrition are important to us, and we recognize that to stay alive we have to stay fit.
Diet and exercise have greatly helped to make for a healthier fire service. Healthy eating and, more importantly, healthy cooking are probably the biggest contributors, because a healthy diet is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle.
A good heart-healthy recipe that's easy to make at the firehouse and the family house is this “Lemon & Dill Chicken,” and “that's bringing the firehouse home!”
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (1 to 1 1/4 pounds)
sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons flour
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, divided
1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Season chicken breasts on both sides with sea salt and pepper.
- Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the chicken and sear until well browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.
- Move chicken to a plate and cover with foil.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to the pan.
- Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
- Whisk broth, flour, 1 tablespoon dill, and lemon juice in a measuring cup and add to pan.
- Cook, whisking, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
- Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan; reduce heat to low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes.
- Transfer the chicken to a warmed platter (warm in oven by setting on lowest setting).
- Season sauce with sea salt and pepper and spoon over the chicken.
- Garnish with the remaining 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill.
Frank Vaerewyck has had a passion for the fire service that has spanned 20 years. He has been a volunteer and career firefighter and is currently a firefighter/EMT with the Manassas (VA) Volunteer Fire Company. He has passed on his passion for the fire service through instruction and mentorship. That same passion he has for the fire service is shared with his love of food. In 2006, Vaerewyck won an Iron Chef-style competition sponsored by a radio station in Richmond, Virginia. That is where he also furthered his education by attending a Culinary Arts Program.
- As the Firehouse Foodie, he has been compiling recipes to be included in a cookbook that will give others the opportunity to see their hometown heroes not just as firefighters, but as the firehouse chefs they truly are.