Sometimes I get some crazy ideas that I just have to see how they will turn out. If you follow my blog at all, you know I’m a Bourbon Drinker. And I love to look for ways to cook with bourbon because I truly love the flavor of bourbon. I saw some recipes for cooking chicken with cola and I immediately thought – why not try to make a Jim & Cola chicken? And I knew it would be a little sweet so I wanted to serve it with something that would add some heat – so I added some buffalo sauce to mac & cheese and created this Jim & Cola Chicken with Buffalo Mac!
Marinating chicken is always a great way to get the flavor all the way through and to keep it tender and juicy. This chicken is bursting with flavor. I used a Pepsi cola – but you can use whatever type of cola you prefer. I used Jim Beam, but any bourbon will do as long as it’s not a flavored bourbon. If you have whiskey instead of bourbon, that will work as well, you just won’t get the smokiness you get from bourbon. For the hot honey, I used Mike’s Hot Honey because it’s my favorite bottled variety, but again use your fave. At the risk of sounding like a broken record – I used Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo sauce, but use your go-to.
For this cheese sauce, I went with more mozzarella than cheddar because it has a milder flavor – letting the buffalo sauce take center stage. It is a also a thicker than usual cheese sauce (less liquids used) so that it really sticks to the pasta. If you want to reduce the buffalo sauce to lower the heat, you can. But honestly, it is not that hot – it is more about the flavor of Buffalo sauce than the spice. If you don’t want the buffalo at all, you should do at least a fifty/fifty on the mozzarella and sharp cheddar – so that it’s not bland.
Now Let’s Get Cookin’!
Jim & Cola Chicken with Buffalo Mac
- 2 lb Chicken Thighs boneless, skinless
- ½ lb Bacon cut into ½ inch pieces
- 1½ lb Short Pasta elbows, shells, rotini
For the Marinade
- 12 oz Cola
- ½ cup Bourbon like Jim Bean
- ½ cup Hot Honey like Mike's
- 2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tbsp Dried Minced Onion
- 1 tsp Parsley
- 1 tsp Ginger Powder
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Pepper
For the Buffalo Cheese Sauce
- 4 tsp Butter
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 4 tsp Flour
- 1 cup Chicken Broth
- 1 cup Heavy Cream
- 2 cups Mozzarella Cheese
- 1 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- ½ cup Buffalo Sauce like Frank's Red Hot
- In a gallon-sized zipper bag, combine marinade ingredients. Add chicken and let marinate at least 2 hours (up to 24 hours).
- Start water boiling for pasta.
- In a large saute pan over medium high heat, add bacon. Cook until crispy and remove to a paper towel covered plate. Reserve bacon grease.
- In same saute pan, add chicken pieces and cook each side for 3 minutes. Reserve marinade.
- Reduce heat in saute pan to medium and pour in reserved marinade. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
- Add pasta to boiling water and cook as directed on package. Drain in a colander and rinse with cool water. Return to pot, away from heat.
- In a sauce pan over medium heat, add butter and garlic powder. Once melted, whisk in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Then whisk in chicken stock and cook for 2 minutes. Next add heavy cream and cook for 2 minutes. Then add cheeses, one cup at a time, until fully incorporated. Lastly add in buffalo sauce and stir to combine, cook another 2 minutes. Pour sauce over cooked pasta and stir to combine.
- Serve in a shallow bowl starting with portion of buffalo mac. Place 2-3 piece of chicken to one side of bowl, then sprinkle with bacon pieces.
Estelle Forrest’s self-published first cookbook – Homemade on a Weeknight: A Family Cookbook – was created after a lot of playing around in the kitchen. You can purchase your own copy here:
Estelle self-published a second cookbook – Burgers on a Weeknight – recently. It has over 60 delicious burger creations! You can purchase your own copy here:
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