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There's only one foolproof way to tenderize your meat. 

Elisabeth Sherman
May 11, 2018

Now that the weather is warmer, you may have set up your grill, propane stocked, with the tongs cleaned and ready to rock. That might seem like enough to start grilling, but you’re forgetting one crucial tool—and it’s one that you might not even own. According to celebrity chef Aarón Sánchez, a host on Chopped and Masterchef, if you plan on grilling this summer, you’re going to need a meat mallet.

“I use meat mallets all the time because I like to butterfly meat to grill in the summer season,” Sánchez says.

Using the butterfly method to break down your meat—Sánchez calls chicken a “dynamite option” because it “holds marinades really well”—can actually cut your grilling time in half. If you’re still learning the technique, watch Jacques Pepin butterfly a whole chicken for further instruction.

Once you’ve butterflied the chicken, Sánchez says you should place it between two pieces of cling wrap, and simply start “hitting it with the meat mallet.” This process exposes more surface area of the chicken, which minimizes the cooking time, and allows the marinade to “penetrate the protein quicker and more consistently.” Preparing your meat this way, Sanchez—who has been marinading meat in Miller Lite before grilling lately—says, “just makes more sense.”

What else do you need to get your kitchen ready for grilling season? A microplane or a very fine grater is at the top of Sánchez’s must-have list. A reliable microplane isn’t just for grating lemon zest—the tool can also break down ginger and garlic, those two crucial ingredients for salsas and marinades.

Sánchez has a couple more recommendations for appliances that will upgrade your summer dishes: Sharp knives (which have some unexpected benefits, including helping you cry less when cutting onions), a good quality wooden cutting board, and a “high powered blender.” On that front, the Vitamix—a favorite of the Insta-famous food blogger Gaby Dalkin, is the best option on the market right now.