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Big secrets 

The Observer, like a lot of Americans, has got our secrets, but for the most part they're so boring they couldn't even excite the senses or loins of one of those housebound, horngry Incels we've heard so much about on the news of late. Our personal trove of secrets ain't nothing to write home about for the most part, but —again like a lot of Americans — we do have quite a few culinary secrets that we keep close to the vest, never writing them down lest they fall into enemy hands. With nothing going on around The Observatory but the rent this week, though, we're hurting to fill this space, still a follower of that rumpled god of journalists Phil D. Hole after all these years. So, we thought we'd drop a few secrets from our family cookbook.

Here's one that you're not going to believe until you try it. When making a grilled cheese, don't use butter. Instead, use a thin but thorough schmear of real Duke's mayonnaise. You're thinking your old pal has gone slap-ass crazy right now, but try it and report back. Best grilled cheese of your life, sons and daughters, and creamy mayo is a hell of a lot easier to spread on bread than cold butter from the fridge. Just take your two slices of bread, put your frommage of choice between them, lightly frost the outsides with a very thin layer of mayo, then fry in a hot pan. We've got no idea about the science behind it (as is our general scientific ignorance about most things, from electricity to why our cat insists on knocking shit off tables), but the result is an ooey, gooey, altogether perfect grilled cheese. Doesn't even taste like mayo. Promise.

Here's another from the vaults: Unless the grill is going, our preferred method of hot dog preparation has long been to boil those suckers like the proper white trash glitterati we are. Here's the trick: While you're boiling your dogs, open the buns and pull 'em out of the bag, then — once your weiners have plumped to moist and glistening perfection — put them on the buns and then stuff the whole shootin' match back into the bun bag. Twist-tie the top closed, and let them steam in the bag like that for five minutes. After that, enjoy the best hot dog you've ever had outside the ballpark, the bun steamed and flavorful. If you're worried about plastic CFCs or PCPs or PFCs or whatever chemical people online are doom-shouting about this week, we suppose you could do this trick with any small, sealed container, but the bag is right there and handy, and we ain't dead yet. Besides: It's a hot dog. It's probably already shaving a month or two off your life.

This last one is something that tastes great and it's literally three ingredients. Take your slow cooker (you DO have a slow cooker, right? If not, how do you call yourself an Arkansan?) and into it introduce about three to four pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, along with two smaller cans or one big ol' can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (you can find them stashed in the Hispanic food section of pretty much any grocery store), plus about a cup of water to rinse out all the nuclear-red goo from the cans. Dump that in, too. Finally, drop in a whole stick of real butter, then salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low all day while you're at work, and by the time you get home, those boring boneless bird breasts will have transformed into something amazing. Pull the breasts out of the primordial soup, shred them in a big bowl with two forks and then ladle a few cups of juice from the slow cooker over them to keep things nice and moist. Our go-to for The Devil's Chicken is to make tacos and burritos with cheese, cilantro, onions and salsa, but it's also delicious on salads, tasty with pasta and a revelation in homemade soup or chili. The recipe makes a ton and keeps for at least a few days. How can something with three ingredients be worth a damn? Here's how: There's magic in those adobo pepper cans, kids. Trust us.

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