The thing is, coffee is like pepper: It can be ground and used as a spice. And as with pepper, you have to find the right amount for your palate. Start small, adding just enough to get its flavor and adjust according to your taste. Chicken thighs make the best sandwiches; they are perfectly portioned to fit on muffins and their darker meat stays moist, even when refrigerated. Behold the glory of what can happen when we turn our attention from breasts to thighs.
Yield: 4 sandwiches but easily multiplied to feed the masses
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground coffee
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. coarse salt
1/2 dried orange peel
2 tbs. vegetable oil
4 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin on)
4 English muffins, split
1 red, ripe tomato, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 avocado, sliced thin
6 oz. pepper jack cheese, sliced
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Combine spices and mix with oil to make a paste. Place the thighs in a mixing bowl and add the spice paste mixture. Toss to coat evenly.
Place the chicken thighs (evenly spaced) on a foil or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. (You can also place the thighs directly onto a roasting rack suspended over a baking sheet; however, it’s still best to line the pan underneath to make clean up easier.)
Roast the chicken thighs for 45 minutes, giving the fat enough time to render out as much as possible and get the skin crisp. If the skin is still flabby, it won’t be good on the sandwich. We want to leave the skin on because all of the spices have been baked into it. The meat will also be fork tender after this amount of time. Remove the chicken from the oven to cool, but leave the oven on.
When the chicken has cooled until it’s easy enough to handle, turn over the thighs (skin side down) onto a small pan and using a paring knife, cut along each side of the bone. Carefully pull the thighbone out, leaving the meat intact.
Turn the thighs back over (skin side up) and top with the cheese. Place back in the oven just long enough to melt the cheese, about 10 minutes.
While the cheese is melting, toast the English muffin.
Shingle the slices of avocado onto the bottoms of the English muffins, top with a boneless coffee-roasted chicken thigh, and then finish with a slice of tomato. Close with top half of the English muffin.