Chow Time with Anaheim Fire & Rescue: Lemon Chicken with Capers

By Shawn Price

You can tell Anaheim Fire Station 10 is full of veteran guys.

Pans hang neatly in order of size over the stove, across from coffee mugs hanging neatly on the wall. Clean, open stretches of counter space imply a system of no mess and no nonsense has been the accepted Standard Operating Procedure for a while.

Anaheim Fire & Rescue Engineer Ron Snow adds chardonnay to the browned chicken.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Three of the four firefighters at the station have worked together for more than 30 years. As they return from a call, little needs to be said to prepare a proper meal for hungry guys. Everyone’s role in making the meal is understood as if it has been drilled a thousand times.

Firefighter Ron Snow jokes he’s “addicted” to diet soda as he cracks one open before quickly getting down to business.

“The nectar of the gods,” he smirks.

Basil, grown behind the fire station, is picked fresh as the salad is prepared.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Snow’s cooking his lemon caper chicken, a fairly simple dish, yet well regarded. He put in his time at two high-end Orange County restaurants (Anaheim’s White House and Brea’s La Vie en Rose) — among other things — before he chose to become a firefighter.

“My mom did all the cooking when I was growing up, but wasn’t a very good cook,” he says. “I learned from the restaurants about food and wine.”

But he wanted something more.

“I was running heavy equipment and didn’t see myself doing that forever,” Snow says. “A good friend’s uncle was a battalion chief. My friend said ‘Why don’t you look into the fire thing.’ I agreed and took a class at Santa Ana College. I saw all the surf cats in there and thought I should be able to get a job in front of these guys and kept taking classes.”

Anaheim Fire & Rescue Engineer Ron Snow adds freshly picked basil to the lemon caper chicken pasta.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

The veterans solve the problems of the world around the table every night, with this conversation freely moving from drugs in America to the proper eradication of gophers.

“It’s all about the camaraderie. It seems like the better the food is, the better the interaction,” Snow says.

Less than 10 minutes after the meal, it’s as if the meal never took place. Dishes in the dishwasher. Leftovers packaged up and in the fridge. The floor is mopped. Even the aroma of a meal quickly becomes a memory. No mess and no nonsense, and ready for the next call, as if it has been drilled a thousand times.

Anaheim Fire & Rescue Firefighter Ray Larkins, left, and Engineer Ron Snow mix mozzarella cheese into the browned chicken for the lemon and capers pasta dish.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Lemon Caper Chicken (serves 4-6 people)

3 1/2 pounds of chicken (or 2 full chicken breasts)

1 small shallot

Half clove of garlic

16 ounces of mozzarella

2 four-ounce jars of capers

3 lemons (or about 6 ounces of lemon juice)

1 bowl of fresh basil

1 large tablespoon of Grey Poupon Dijon mustard

3 ounces of chardonnay

2 one-pound boxes of medium-sized pasta shells

Lemon and caper pasta with grilled chicken, mozzarella cheese, conchiglie (shell pasta), and basil.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Directions: 

Grate cheese, chop basil, and cut chicken into strips.

Bring pot of water to boil, add pasta. Cook about 4 minutes or until soft. Drain.

In a large skillet, brown the chicken.

Add diced onion, garlic, chardonnay, and lemon juice and bring to a boil.

Lower to simmer, add capers and Grey Poupon mustard.

Mix chicken in serving bowl with pasta and add cheese and basil.

Serve with 1 loaf of cheddar cheese jalapeño bread.

Firefighters from Anaheim Fire Station 10, from left, Ray Larkins, Captain Colin Wood, Wayne Justl, Battalion Chief Alan Long, and Ron Snow sit down to a lemon caper and chicken pasta.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Other Chow Time recipes: 

Chop chop salad 

Chile rellenos 

Coq au vin