Today: Don't overthink it. Pair a nourishing bowl of pasta with a just-sweet-enough cocktail for dinner tonight.
Don't get us wrong, we love to experiment in the kitchen. We could spend hours poring over cookbooks (which we often do) and mixing together different flavors and textures. But a good meal is a good meal, and when the mood strikes, it simply cannot be beat. So for dinner tonight, a nourishing Chicken Sausage Meatballs and Broccoli Pasta Bowl will do, and to wash it down, the Virago has just the right amount of sweet to balance the savory.
Here's how to make it:
Begin with preparing the meatballs for the pasta: Combine the ground chicken with 1 to 2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons of ground garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar, the fennel seeds, 1 egg, and the panko crumbs in a large mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours. Then, roll the mix into small (roughly 1 1/2-inch wide) meatballs. Heat 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet and brown the meatballs on all sides, in batches if necessary. Remove the meatballs to drain on paper towels. Leave the drippings in the skillet. Add 2 additional tablespoons of olive oil to the reserved drippings in the skillet and sauté 4 cloves of minced garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper for about a minute, or until fragrant. Add the meatballs and 1 cup of the chicken broth.
Turn off the heat while you prepare the pasta and broccoli: Begin cooking the penne in a large pot per package directions but add the second cup of chicken broth to the pasta water. The penne should take 10 to 11 minutes to cook. At about the 8 minute mark, add the broccoli florets to the cooking pasta and cook for roughly 3 minutes more. While the pasta is cooking, start heating the meatballs in the skillet over medium heat.
Thankfully, it's time for the Virago, starting with the ginger syrup: Juice ginger (we started with about 8 ounces of peeled ginger, but it's up to you) and combine equal parts ginger juice and sugar. Shake until all sugar is dissolved -- you can store this in the refrigerator up to a week for next Tuesday.
Return to dinner and drain the pasta and broccoli, reserving a cup or two of the pasta liquid, and stir the mixture into the skillet of meatballs. Add some of the pasta liquid if needed to loosen everything up. Season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with grated Parmesan.
Once your pasta is complete, finish the Virago: Combine all of the ingredients in a shaker, add ice, and shake for 5 to 10 seconds. Strain into a highball glass over ice and top with soda and crystallized ginger if you like.
Click through on the recipe photos or titles to see (and save and print) the full recipes, or take advantage of our handy grocery list below.
1 pound ground chicken
2 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds
1 cup unseasoned panko crumbs
2 cups chicken broth, divided
10 ounces dry penne pasta
4 to 5 heaping cups small, fresh broccoli florets
1 ounce Fernet Branca
1 ounch Carpano Antica Formula
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce ginger syrup
Soda water (optional)
Crystallized ginger (optional)
We are assuming you already have salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic, sugar, extra-virgin olive oil, eggs, and Parmesan cheese. If not, make sure to add these things to your list.