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Recipe courtesy of Robert Britton

Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese with Green Tomato Chow Chow and Sweet Tea Chicken

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  • Level: Advanced
  • Total: 16 hr (includes marinating, cooling and chilling times)
  • Active: 2 hr 10 min
  • Yield: 8 servings
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Sweet Tea Chicken:

4 family-size tea bags, preferably Lipton

1/2 cup brown sugar 

3 cloves garlic, smashed 

3 sprigs thyme

1 Vidalia onion, thinly sliced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 cups ice cubes

Eight 8-ounce skin-on chicken breasts with drum attached

Vegetable oil, for frying

1 cup prepared sweet tea 

Green Tomato Chow Chow:

12 cups roughly chopped green cabbage

3 cups roughly chopped onions

3 cups roughly chopped green tomatoes 

2 cups roughly chopped roasted red peppers

3 cups sugar 

2 cups white vinegar 

1/4 cup pickling salt 

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon ground turmeric 

Pinch of crushed red pepper

Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese:

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour 

4 cups heavy cream 

4 cups whole milk 

2 teaspoons liquid smoke 

1 teaspoon ground white pepper 

18 ounces smoked Gouda, grated

2 cups grated Parmesan

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

24 ounces cavatappi pasta

Panko bread crumbs, for topping


Special equipment:
an instant-read thermometer
  1. For the chicken: Bring 16 cups of water to a boil in a large pot and drop in the tea bags. Boil 2 to 3 minutes. Add the brown sugar, garlic, thyme, onion, 1/4 cup salt and several grinds of pepper and return to a boil; cook for 10 minutes. Add the ice cubes to the marinade and refrigerate it until cold, about 1 hour. Add the chicken to the brine and marinate at least 12 hours.
  2. Heat enough oil to coat the bottom of a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Working in batches, remove the chicken from the brine, pat it dry, and add it, skin-side down, to the pan; reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the skin is golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low; flip the chicken and continue cooking until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 165 degrees F.
  3. Simmer the sweet tea over medium heat until it is reduced by half. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Set aside.
  4. For the chow chow: Working in batches, pulse the cabbage, onions, green tomatoes and roasted red peppers in a food processor until minced. Combine the minced vegetables with the sugar, vinegar, pickling salt, mustard seeds, turmeric and crushed red pepper in a large pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until the flavors are blended, about 10 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes at room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 5 hours.
  5. For the mac and cheese: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir to incorporate, creating a blond (very light brown) roux. Add the heavy cream, milk, liquid smoke and white pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the sauce reads 145 degrees F., 15 to 20 minutes. Slowly stir in the Gouda and Parmesan until melted. Stir in the thyme and season with salt and black pepper.
  7. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for 7 minutes and drain. Immediately combine the pasta with 2 cups of the sauce in a large baking dish. (Reserve any remaining sauce for another use.) Top the pasta with some panko and bake until the bread crumbs turn golden, about 30 minutes. 
  8. Divide the chicken among 8 plates, placing it skin-side up. Top the chicken with some chow chow and drizzle with the sweet tea reduction. Serve with a scoop of mac and cheese.
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