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Grilled chicken breasts are topped with avocado, cheese, green onions, red pepper and sour cream to create a tasty hand-held meal. Photo by Sue Doeden

In a pickle for dinner? How about a Dilled Chicken Avocado Melt?

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Many summers ago, while living in our first house on an all-American kind of street, it was not uncommon for neighbors to gather for an evening meal. Children would play as their dads took charge of a grill filled with chubby bratwurst and polish sausage. Moms would arrange paper plates and plastic forks, salads, baked beans and chips on picnic tables, slice some buns, then relax on folding lawn chairs as they sipped a cool beverage and chatted.

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And then, amidst the laughter of children, my sweet little preschool-aged son would whine, "I don't want a politsch." Ah, yes, the good old days. Maybe he would have preferred a chicken breast?

A sandwich supper is, deservedly, a busy cook's standby. Quick and easy to make, with no hot oven required, it's a perfect hand-held summer meal in an edible container. Not much mess for the cook to clean up, either.

After my husband enjoyed a recent restaurant meal of succulent dill pickle fried chicken (and was kind enough to offer me a couple of bites), I was ready to come off my hiatus from boneless, skinless chicken breasts and create a dill pickle juice-marinated chicken sandwich.

I started with breasts from chickens raised on a family farm not very far away from where I live. Six good-sized chicken breasts soaked in a marinade of olive oil and yes, pickle juice drained from a jar of Minnesota dills. Flavored with garlic, onions, hot sauce and lots of fresh feathery dill leaves, this marinade means business.

Grilled to perfection, dilled chicken breasts are proof that boneless, skinless chicken breasts do not need to be a pale, flavorless, tough piece of protein. Just seconds before the chicken is perfectly cooked, slices of creamy, ripe avocado can be arranged on each breast, and then covered with shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Once the grilled meat is positioned on a split whole wheat bun, a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of chopped green onions and sweet red pepper tops it off.

The marinated chicken breasts can also be threaded onto skewers with chunks of fresh vegetables to create delicious kabobs.

Dilled Chicken Avocado Melt is a sandwich that takes both hands to hold. It's meaty and cheesy and creamy and crunchy all at once. It's also a tempting alternative for those who'd rather not have a "politsch."

Dilled Chicken Avocado Melt

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup dill pickle juice

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

2 tablespoons fresh dill leaves, minced

6 chicken breast halves, skinned, boned, rinsed

2 firm, ripe avocados, sliced

1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

1/3 cup chopped green onions

1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper

6 whole wheat buns, split

Combine olive oil, dill pickle juice, minced garlic, 1/4 cup chopped green onions, hot pepper sauce and dill leaves in a small bowl. Place chicken breasts in a large zip-top plastic bag. Pour marinade mixture over the chicken. Seal bag and shake to coat chicken breasts entirely with marinade. Put bag of chicken in a dish and refrigerate at least 8 hours.

Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade. Grill chicken breast halves over hot coals, turning once. When meat is just about done, arrange avocado slices evenly over each breat. Sprinkle evenly with shredded cheese. Finish grilling until chicken is done and cheese is melted. Place each chicken breast on a split bun. Top with sour cream, remaining 1/3 cup green onions and red pepper. Press top half of bun on each to form a sandwich. Makes 6 servings.

Tips from the cook

--When fresh dill is not available, use 2 teaspoons dried dill weed instead.

--When a meat thermometer shows an internal temperature of 160 degrees, the chicken breasts are ready to eat. Transfer from grill to a plate, tent with foil and allow meat to rest for a few minutes before assembling the sandwiches. It doesn't take long for boneless, skinless chicken breasts to get overcooked and dry, so don't walk away from the grill.

--This sandwich is delicious on a lightly toasted bun. Brush cut side of each bun with a little olive oil and grill, cut side down, just until golden.

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