For Better Weeknight Pasta, Add Spicy Chicken Meatballs + Broccoli

November 29, 2014

There are 3 million chicken recipes on the internet. We're here to show you the good ones. Win, win.

Today: Make a comforting weeknight standby even better.

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This could just be a bowl of pasta, broccoli, and store-bought chicken sausage, like you might throw together in any tired moment after work. It will get the job done -- and it's better than frozen pizza -- but it's also destined for cooking ruts, and has much more potential than it lets on.

To make a comforting standby even better, Food52er inpatskitchen applies a few smart tricks: She mixes together her own sausage for the meatballs, which is as simple as stirring spices into ground chicken (she then has you chill the mix for 2 to 4 hours, but on a hurried night I think she'd understand you skimping on that). She also adds chicken stock to the pasta cooking water for a fuller flavor, then tosses the broccoli florets into the pot to blanch at the same time. She times out the whole endeavor to the minute, so you can get dinner on the table artfully, with only two pans to clean.

It's so good you'll want to make enough for leftovers; you'll be hankering for them for quick dinners or work lunches later in the week. You may want to make extra meatballs to freeze, too. You'll even want to serve this to company on an especially cold night, then idle with glasses of red wine and good bread to sweep up the last of the sauce.

Chicken Sausage Meatball and Broccoli Pasta Bowl by inpatskitchen

Makes about 4 servings

For the meatballs:

1 pound ground chicken
1 to 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons granulated (ground) garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds
1 large egg
1 cup unseasoned panko crumbs
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Putting it all together:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
The previously cooked meatballs
2 cups chicken broth divided (1/1)
10 ounces dry penne pasta
4 to 5 heaping cups of small, fresh broccoli florets
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan for serving

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

Is there an undiscovered Food52 chicken recipe you love? Send us a paragraph or two at [email protected] about why you love it, and it could be next week's Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner.

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I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."