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Be honest with yourself for just a moment: Some nights, you don't need to eat your vegetables.
Some nights, you want only to be alone with a big bowl of something savory and carb-laden, with nothing too virtuous or leafy to distract you from the important business at hand. The best -- the only -- accompaniment on such nights is a proper cocktail.
There are a lot of great things to say about this pasta -- it's comforting but far from bland, ready in a half hour, and asks very little of you or your dishwasher. But perhaps the best thing about it is how well it gets along with a Sazerac. Tomorrow is a new day, and tomorrow is when you'll have your vegetables.
1 pound andouille sausage (or other spicy smoked sausage), cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds
3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts) cut into 3/4-inch cubes
3/4 cup finely diced green bell pepper
2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
3/4 pound peeled and deveined shrimp, such as 21/25s
Thinly sliced green onion, for garnish
Herbsaint or absinthe (sub Pernod in a pinch)
We assume you have olive oil, onion, celery, garlic, canned tomatoes, dried pasta, dried thyme, dried oregano, dried basil, cayenne pepper, simple syrup, and lemon. If not, add those to your grocery list!
1. Coat a large, lidded skillet (about 14 inches in diameter) with the olive oil. On medium heat, warm the oil and add the sliced sausage. After the sausage begins to render some of its fat, raise the heat and add the chicken. Sauté until the sausage and chicken just begin to brown a bit.
2. Stir the onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, paprika, thyme, basil, oregano, and cayenne (if using) into the sausage and chicken and sauté over medium heat until the vegetables soften. Crush the tomatoes and add them, along with their juices, to the pan. Simmer, partially covered, for about 10 minutes.
3. Add one cup of the water, bring up to a low boil, and stir in the pasta.
4. The pasta should take about 12 minutes to cook, so at the 7-minute mark, add the shrimp and continue to simmer until the pasta is al dente and the shrimp is just cooked through. If you need to loosen the dish up a bit, add an extra 1/2 cup of water during the last few minutes.
5. While the pasta cooks, pour absinthe in a rocks glass and swirl to coat. Pour out the excess and rub the rim of glass with lemon twist.
6. Combine whiskey, simple syrup, and Peychaud bitters in a shaker filled partway with ice. Stir well, then strain contents into the glass. Repeat as needed.
7. Serve the pasta in bowls, garnished with green onion.
Photos by James Ransom