Place all of the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and let the sauce simmer for 15-20 minutes, until thickened slightly. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
⅔ cup honey, ⅓ cup brown sugar, ⅓ cup pineapple juice, ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce, 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ⅛-¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
For the Chicken Tenders
Preheat a deep fryer or large, heavy-bottomed pot to 350°F. Set a wire cooling rack over paper towels. Set aside.
Set up a dredging station. Add the buttermilk to a large bowl. In a second large bowl, whisk together the flour, paprika, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper.
Toss the chicken tenders in the buttermilk to coat. Allow excess buttermilk to drip from each chicken tender before dredging them through the flour mixture, rolling them to coat.
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken tenders
Working in batches of 3, add the tenders to the hot oil and fry for 4 minutes per side, until golden brown 165°F internally.
Use tongs to remove them from the oil and place on the cooling rack to drain.
For the 4 Cheese Macaroni
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain, rinse, and return the pasta to the pot, tossing it with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.
16 ounces penne pasta
In a saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 45-60 seconds.
¼ cup unsalted butter, 2 cloves garlic
Whisk in the flour until light golden and bubbling slightly. Pour in the heavy cream while constantly whisking, then continue to whisk for about 5 minutes until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 2 cups heavy cream
Add in the cheeses, one at a time, stirring until melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese, ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, ½ cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese, ½ cup shredded Asiago cheese, Salt and pepper
Add the cheese sauce to the pot with the cooked pasta and toss to coat.
Place the fried chicken tenders in a clean bowl and toss them with some of the honey pepper sauce.
Portion out the macaroni and cheese on serving plates, top it with several chicken tenders, sprinkle everything with crumbled bacon, and garnish with some fresh parsley, if desired. Serve with the remaining honey pepper sauce and some warm breadsticks, if desired.
6 slices cooked bacon, Fresh parsley, Breadsticks
Soy Sauce: Use an equal amount of tamari or coconut aminos for a gluten free alternative.
Nutritional information does not include breadsticks.
Storage: Store honey pepper chicken mac and cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.