About the root beer: Choose whatever brand you like. I grabbed a bottle of A&W, but was tempted to try a ginger root beer I saw while shopping...
About the meatballs: I roasted the meatballs before adding them to the sauce. Why? The fat cooks off, the exterior becomes perfectly browned (without burning), and it gives the sauce a chance to develop its own flavor at the same time.
About the pasta: I chose tagliatelle for this dish because the noodles are thick and fabulous. Truth is, ANY pasta shape works! Oh, and egg noodles would be amazing too!
Meatballs with Root Beer Barbecue Sauce (and Tagliatelle)
1 pound lean ground beef
1 teaspoon onion powder, divided
1 teaspoon garlic powder, divided
Salt and ground black pepper
12 ounces pasta of choice (I used thick tagliatelle and it was awesome with the sauce)
1 cup root beer
1 cup beef broth
1 cup ketchup
1 tablespon brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a bowl, combine the beef, 1/2 teaspoon of the onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon of the garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Mix well and shape the mixture into 16 meatballs. Arrange the meatballs on the prepared pan and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until they're golden brown and cooked through.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain and cover with foil to keep warm.
To make the sauce, in a skillet, combine the root beer, broth, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, and remaining onion and garlic powders. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes (while the meatballs are roasting). When the meatballs are finished cooking in the oven, add them to the sauce and simmer for 5 to 10 more minutes, until the sauce thickens and reduces (this is actually a judgement call on your part - you can stop cooking at any point; whenever you like the consistency of the sauce).
Transfer the noodles to bowls and top with the meatballs and sauce.