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Little Ears with Broccoli and Chicken Sausage

Eating little ears sounds creepy, but there is no reason to be scared.  One bite of this East Coast Italian dish and you’ll be craving the consumption of little ears all the time.

Just under 15 minutes
1 Hot-tip
Orecchiette (oh-reck-ee-ET-tay) means “little ears” in Italian, and that’s exactly what they look like. These bitty beauties are tiny little vessels for all of your culinary creations, cradling sauces and catching the bits in any dish. This is an East Coast inspired recipe sure to impress any Italian, even a legit Italian that uses words like mootz (for mozzarella) and proshoot (for prosciutto). And if you’re uncertain of the correct pronunciation of orecchiette, we give you permission to just say “little ears,” as not to embarrass yourself in front of your Italian friends.


orecchiette pasta (little ears)
about 8 oz.
ground chicken sausage
about ½ lb.
2 cloves
fennel seed
1 tablespoon
dried chili
1 tablespoon
stem of 1 head and ½ the florets from that head
¼ chunk of the onion
parmesan cheese
about ½ cup, shaved


olive oil
balsamic vinegar

totally optional


Pot and pan prep
Place a medium pot over medium high heat and fill most of the way with hot water. Salt the water and bring to a boil. Once your water boils, toss in your pasta. Cook the pasta 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally so they don’t stick together. Now grab a large pan, place over medium heat, and drizzle with olive oil.
Start the sauce
Add your ground chicken sausage to the large pan with hot oil. While that’s cooking, grab your mortar and pestle. Combine your garlic cloves, fennel seed and chili and mash into a paste. Add your paste to the chicken sausage and add a pinch of salt. Break up the sausage in the pan and allow it to brown.
Cut stuff
Cut the stem off your head of broccoli, don't toss it, we’re using the whole thing! Thinly slice the stem into matchstick size pieces and add them to the chicken sausage. Now chop the florets into bite-sized pieces and set aside. Using a vegetable peeler, shave shingles of parm onto your cutting board and set aside. Next, slice your onion into very thin strips and add them to your chicken sausage. Once your sausage is browned, add the broccoli florets to the pan too. Season with a big pinch of salt and continue to cook.
Bring it all together
Add a good splash of balsamic vinegar to your chicken sausage pan. Using a cup, remove about ¼ cup of the starchy pasta water to your sausage. Test your orecchiette. If it is al dente, use a spider to remove them from the water and drop them right into the sausage pan. Give it a good stir and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
Pasta plating
Pour the chicken sausage and pasta out onto a large plate. Top with shaved parm and serve!
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