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Author Notes: I love pasta and broccoli and when you throw in a little Italian sausage, I'm in heaven! I make a quick Italian-flavored turkey sausage for spaghetti and meatballs and thought, why not ground chicken? The meatball is a little spicy so add the crushed red pepper sparingly if you're not a heat freak. —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
- Combine all ingredients except the oil thoroughly in a mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
- After refrigeration, roll the mix into smallish (1 1/2-inch) meatballs. Heat the 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.
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
- Add the 2 tablespoons of oil to the reserved drippings in the skillet and sauté the garlic and crushed red pepper for about a minute until fragrant. Add the meatballs and one 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 takes 10 to 11 minutes to cook. At about the 8 minute mark, add the broccoli florets to the cooking pasta and cook about 3 minutes more. While the pasta is cooking, start heating the meatballs in the skillet over medium heat.
- 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 the Parmesan.