Coffee Crusted Chicken Sandwich with Winter Slaw and Avocado Mayo / by Chelsea Zwieg

The other day I heard someone say that they don't like sandwiches. I'm sorry, what? That is like saying you don't like dinner. Or water. There is nothing as broad as sandwiches and that is what I love about them. The best thing about sandwiches is that there are so many variations that no matter what you like or don't like, you can find a sandwich that you will love. Should we see how many more times I can sandwich the word sandwich into this paragraph? I just really love them. 

When I was little, my sandwich of choice was peanut butter and jelly, but after making that choice a few too many times, I am now so sick of them that I don't even want to think about it. Since then the center of my sandwich universe has rotated between tuna, turkey, a brief salami phase, grilled cheese, BLTs and now, my new favorite chicken sandwich. 

The chicken is coated in a combination of coffee, brown sugar, cinnamon and lime that is a perfect balance between sweet and tart with just a little bitterness from the coffee. It is topped with a winter slaw, which is entirely customizable to whatever winter produce you can find at the grocery store. February tends to be a major bummer for produce, so quick whatever-you-have-that-isn't-soggy-and-wrinkled recipes like this are lifesavers. You could use cabbage, fennel, kale, carrots, endive, anything that isn't halfway to the garbage. The finishing touch is a creamy, peppery avocado mayo. 

I'm 99% sure that this could turn anyone into a sandwich believer.

Coffee Crusted Chicken Sandwiches with Winter Slaw and Avocado Mayo

Makes 2 sandwiches

| Ingredients

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breastes
  • 2 tbsp. finely ground coffee
  • 1 tbsp.  brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded winter vegetables (I used a combination of red cabbage, napa cabbage and carrots)
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. sesame seeds
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise 
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 ciabatta buns (or your favorite bread)

| Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400. 
  • In a small bowl, combine coffee, brown sugar and cinnamon. Place chicken breasts in a small baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and lime juice and rub until meat is evenly coated. Divide the coffee mixture between the two breasts and, using your fingers, rub coating into chicken until the breasts are completely coated. Bake 30-35 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. When chicken is cool enough to handle, cut breasts into thin diagonal slices. 
  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine shredded slaw vegetables, rice vinegar and sesame oil. Toss to coat. Stir in sesame seeds and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, combine avocado and mayonnaise. Stir with a fork until smooth and combined. Add lime juice and stir until smooth. Stir in salt and pepper. This can also be done in a food processor if you prefer a very smooth mayo. I don't mind a few avocado chunks and I hate cleaning my food processor so I opt for a bowl and fork. 
  • Cut buns in half. Spread avocado mayo on top half of bun. Arrange sliced chicken on the bottom half of the bun. Top with slaw and other half of bun. Repeat for remaining sandwiches.