Difficulty Rating: Medium (because of reduction of sauce)
When I first looked at this recipe in Cooking Light I thought: 'well, that's simple'. But when I made it, I realized how all the subtle tastes come together into something somehow comforting and complex at the same time. It's all about the reduction--browning the onions in rich, fennel-seasoned stock again and again at the beginning. It will take you a little time, but it's worth it. Yield: 6-8 servings 408 calories per serving
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 t fennel seeds
1 3/4 C low-sodium chicken broth
12-14 oz. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cup into 1/2 inch chunks
1 C finely chopped parsley
3 egg whites
12 oz to 1 lb vermicelli or any thin pasta
1 1/2 C (about 6 oz) finely shredded Parmesan cheese (domestic is fine)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
In a wide nonstick frying pan, combine onion, fennel seeds, and 1 C of the broth. Bring to a boil; boil, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated. Continue to cook until browned bits accumulate in pan; then add water, 2 T at a time, stirring until all browned bits are loosened. continue to cook until mixture begins to brown again; repeat deglazing using 2 T water each time, until onions are a uniformly light golden brown color.
To pan, add chicken and 2 T more water. cook, stirring , until drippings begin to brown, deglaze pan with 2 T water. When pan is dry, add remaining 3/4 C broth; bring to a boil. Add parsley; keep warm over lowest heat. In a bowl, beat egg whites and egg to blend; set aside.
In 6-qt pan, cook vermicelli in 4 qt.s boiling water just until tender to bite (8-10 minutes) or cook according to package directions. Drain well.
Add hot pasta to pan with chicken. Pour egg mixture over pasta and at once begin lifting with 2 forks to mix well (eggs cook if you delay mixing) add 1 C of the cheese as you mix. Pour mixture onto a warm deep platter or casserole and continue to mix until almost all broth is absorbed. Season to taste with remaining 1/2 C cheese, salt, and pepper. Makes 6-8 servings.