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Former New York Jets star Nick Mangold knows his way around the kitchen. Not only is he an analyst for Amazon Prime Video’s "Thursday Night Football," he hosts a show called "Tailgate Center" that revolves around cooking up game day dishes. This sandwich is one of his favorites for football Sundays.
The chicken is coated like fried chicken and tastes like fried chicken, but it isn't actually fried. He smokes it on a grill over indirect heat at a high temperature, so it cooks quickly and gets crispy without using any oil. The meat is piled on Hawaiian rolls, which he loves for their slight sweetness, along with pickles and BBQ sauce. Nick calls the sandwich "absolutely phenomenal."
Pro Tip from Nick: Always heat your BBQ sauce before using it. He says putting cold BBQ sauce onto food is "sacrilegious." (By the way, Nick created a small-batch BBQ sauce you can buy here.)
For more game day fare, check out Rach’s Buffalo Cauliflower Wings and Emeril Lagasse's Ultimate Cheese Beer Dip.
Combine the buttermilk and spices in a medium bowl, add the chicken thighs and marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
Preheat a smoker to 400°F using apple wood chunks placed for indirect heat cooking.
Place the panko in a shallow container. Remove a chicken thigh from the buttermilk mixture, let any excess marinade drip off, then dredge the meat in the panko until thoroughly coated. Place on a plate and repeat with the remaining thighs.
Set the thighs in the smoker over indirect heat and smoke until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat reads 165°F.
Layer each bottom half of the rolls with 4 pickle chips, 1 chicken thigh and a smattering of warm BBQ sauce. Cover with the top half of the rolls.