Grilling out is a big deal in Cleveland, my hometown, because the freezing temperatures and the snow and ice storms limit your opportunities to get that grill fired up. Clevelanders see summertime, especially summertime holidays, as their one shot at grilling at the crib. When I was a kid, I hated grilling holidays because I never liked the menu my mother preferred. She liked ribs, coleslaw, deviled eggs, and plain potato chips. The only thing I could even tolerate eating was the filling bulging out of the deviled eggs, but because I understood that I couldn’t waste food, I wouldn’t eat them because I didn’t like the white part. There was usually fruit around the house so that’s what I typically ate on those occasions. So I know now that if I’m in Cleveland, I don’t hang out with my mother on grilling holiday; I go to my Aunt Janet and my Uncle B.B.’s house. On grilling holidays, they ALWAYS have the kind of grilled food I enjoy: hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, green beans, and boneless, skinless chicken breasts. For dessert, they might have apple pie and ice cream. I eat all of that (though I would only eat turkey dogs or turkey burgers).

On the Fourth of July this year, I went to my Aunt and Uncle’s house and they PUT IT DOWN! The chicken they made was sooooo tender you could cut it with a plastic fork! So between my husband and I, we got a sense of how they did it. First, my husband saw my Uncle take the meat and put it on the grill. He didn’t seem to fool with it too much; he might’ve flipped it over every 10 minutes for about 30 minutes and then pulled it off his covered charcoal grill. He then saw my Uncle give the chicken to my Aunt who put it into a casserole dish filled with bar-b-que sauce and put it in the oven on a very low temperature.

I tried to convey to them how much pleasure I took from the meal, but my words seemed so inadequate compared to that glorious food. When I asked my Aunt how she got it to be so tender, she told me that she first tenderized it with a mallet. Next, she seasoned it and put the meat into a plastic bag and added a marinade. So the FIRST thing I did when I came back home to Atlanta was to buy myself a mallet (and I had Kohl’s cash and a coupon) ! Before, I had been using the underside of a small pot to flatten parts of the chicken or I would puncture it with a fork thinking it would allow for the marinade and spices to flavor the meat. Let me tell you, if you want the experience of eating chicken that is so tender you can cut it with a plastic fork, go out as soon as you can and get yourself a mallet.

Yesterday, while my husband readied the grill, I allowed my son to use the mallet to pulverize the meat. Next, I seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. After that, I put the meat into a plastic bag and I poured balsamic vinaigrette over the chicken until the meat was fully covered. I think the meat had a chance to marinate for about three hours. After that, my husband put the meat on the grill and let it cook between 30 and 45 minutes. When he took it off the grill, he used a casserole dish that had been sprayed with Pam and poured the bar-b-que sauce over the chicken just to cover it. He then put the meat into a 275 degree oven and we let it braise in that covered casserole dish for at least two hours. When we put a fork into that meat to test for doneness, it was so tender it was falling apart!

My Aunt and Uncle knew what they were doing! In following their example, we had the most delicious meal yesterday. If I was really into making money and selling stuff, I think we’ve got something to sell. But I’m straight with what I have so I prefer to give you this simple method for life changing food without cost. If you try it, let me know how it turns out for you. I’ll give you a picture of what ours looked like later. The picture’s not in my cloud and I can’t seem to get my phone to email the photo to my account. Technology. Try this grilling/braising method. You will not be disappointed.

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