By Michael Morse
The rest of the world might have gone nuts, but that is no reason for us to join them. Society is embracing the idea of questioning the police, as if the police were created to harass them. Showing disrespect to a uniformed police officer is a badge of honor these days; street cred gained through outright contempt for the badge is commonplace, accepted by society and embraced by the some in the media.
But behind the badge exist people. People like you and me. People who put their uniforms on one leg at a time. But, most importantly, the people behind the badge get hungry!
Everybody knows that firefighters are great cooks. The police officers in your district are painfully aware of this fact as well. As they sit in their cruiser, eating stale baloney and mayo on white bread, we are enjoying a T-bone steak, some garlic-infused mashed potatoes, and perhaps a side of steamed broccoli.
It wouldn’t kill us firefighters to extend an invitation to our brothers and sisters who are not as fortunate as us when it comes to taking care of the most basic survival needs. Breaking bread together is the most down to earth human connection there is. Sharing a meal brings people closer, and the closer we are to the people who have the unenviable job of keeping a hostile, unappreciative, and increasingly bold and belligerent public from harming us as we perform our jobs, the better.
Even if the cops can’t physically join us at the table, a hot plate beats a cold sandwich or takeout any day of the week. Here’s a little something you can throw together on the cheap; it’s a staple in every firehouse in Providence, and though every firehouse chef likes to take credit for inventing it, truth is, the recipe originated in Mrs. Morse’s kitchen and was modified by yours truly to meet the needs of the never-ending appetites of my fellow firefighters and sometimes police.
Feeds six firefighters and two police officers or just six firefighters; they will just keep eating until it’s gone…
3 lbs pasta of choice
6 boneless chicken breasts
Big can chicken broth
1 lb mushrooms
1 red pepper
1 large onion
5 cloves garlic
1 jar pepperoncini
Crushed red pepper
- In a big pot, boil water.
- In a smaller pot, heat up olive oil.
- Chop up five good-sized garlic cloves; better yet, have the firefighters do the dirty work. Make sure you tell them to make it snappy; they love that!
- Chop up an onion. Peel it first, throw the pieces on top of the garlic, and stir it a little until the onions are clear. You could say translucent,” but nobody will know what you are talking about.
- Have your slaves . . . er, the firefighters, cut up a head of broccoli, a red pepper, and some mushrooms (unless you bought them sliced).
- In the meantime, cube chicken breasts. Toss the cubes with the garlic and onions until almost done, then add the chopped veggies—add mushrooms last.
- Open a jar of whole pepperoncinis; pour a lot of the juice into the chicken, garlic, and onion mix. Season the mix with garlic powder, onion powder, crushed red pepper, salt, maybe a few shakes of whatever hot sauce you have around, and some black pepper. Add a can of chicken broth.
- Add three pounds of ziti, bowties, or macaroni to the boiling water; adding some salt. Stir.
- When the pasta is done, drain the water out and put it back in the pan. Add the chicken, veggie mix (including the juice) into the pasta pan.
- Add a cup of grated Romano or parmesan cheese (Romano is better; parmesan gets all sticky, but it’s still pretty good).
- Mix it all up, set up some bowls and spoons or forks, and call the cops!
Michael Morse is a former captain with the Providence (RI) Fire Department (PFD), an author, and a popular columnist. He served on PFD’s Engine Co. 2., Engine Co. 9, and Ladder Co. 4 for 10 years prior to becoming an EMT-C on Rescue Co 1 and Captain of Rescue Co. 5.