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Wednesday, 16 March 2016

MARATHON, Texas . . . and Chicken Braised with Balsamic Vinegar

If you blink you’ll drive right through and miss this little oasis.

Enjoy the clubhouse sandwich at the outdoor tables of the little café.  Kepler got lucky and a train rocketed past just across the street.

Then visit the GAGE GARDENS just across the tracks and a bit down the road from the Gage Hotel.   (We were a bit fuzzy on directions and ended up walking to the edge of town . . . sad-looking houses but nice people.)  Dogs are allowed in the gardens . . . nice!

The Gage Hotel has a lot to offer:

interesting décor,

a beautiful swimming pool,

and cosy robes,

lots of  space for "Run, run!"

an outdoor fireplace: perfect for a board game,

and incredible food:  especially the Texas quail on the barroom menu!

We're not offering quail but this is still something special that Nicole made for us:

based on a recipe in THE DEAN & DELUCA COOKBOOK  by David Rosengarten, Joel Dean, and Giorgio DeLuca, c1996

1  ounce dried porcini mushrooms
6 chicken thighs, bone-in
5 garlic cloves
¼ cup flour
¼ lb thick-sliced bacon
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup red wine
½ cup chicken stock
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tsp cold water
¾ cup drained, chopped canned tomatoes
fresh parsley for garnish

  • Rinse porcini mushrooms well.  Pour 1 cup boiling water over them in a small bowl and let soak for 10 minutes. Drain well. Reserve liquid.
  • Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Chop 2 garlic cloves finely.  Mix with ¼ tsp salt.
  • Cut a horizontal slit in each thigh, just above the bone.  Divide the garlic-salt mixture among the 6 thighs.
  • Cut the bacon into pieces one inch wide.  In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp.  Remove the bacon.  There should be about 2 tbsp bacon fat in the pan.  Add vegetable oil if necessary.
  • Shake the chicken pieces in flour and put in skillet, skin down.  Cook for 15 minutes, until crisp and golden.  Transfer chicken to a plate.  Sprinkle again with salt.  Discard the fat in the pan.
  • Finely chop 3 cloves garlic.
  • Combine wine, broth, and balsamic vinegar.
  • Heat one tbsp olive oil in skillet. Cook garlic for one minute.
  • Add reserved mushroom liquid, wine, broth, and balsamic vinegar.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the cornstarch mixture.  Stir in tomatoes.  Add the chicken, coating both sides with sauce.
  • Reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered, for 30 minutes.
  • Chop parsley and set on table beside your plate so you will remember to garnish the finished chicken.
  • Ten minutes before serving, stir in the mushrooms and bacon and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Serve with a mild vegetable like carrots and a nice crusty bread.

Beet greens and fresh pasta also work!