Shells Stuffed with Chicken and Fennel
Makes about 3 dozen
¾ pound jumbo shells
1 tablespoon salt
¾ pound ground chicken, white meat only
1 tablespoon ground fennel seeds
1 egg white
1¼ cups cold heavy cream plus
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 dashes Tabasco
2½ cups heavy cream
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons chopped scallions
Preheat the oven to 400°.
In a large pot, bring at least 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add the tablespoon salt. Add the shells and stir to prevent sticking. Cook until al dente. Drain. Transfer to a bowl and toss lightly with olive oil.
Make the filling: Purée the chicken, fennel, and egg white in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, then set in a larger bowl containing ice water to chill. Add the cream, ¼ cup at a time, stirring after each addition. Stir in the teaspoon salt and Tabasco. When thoroughly chilled, fill shells with the filling, using a pastry bag with a plain tube tip or a spoon.
Make the sauce: Combine all the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over low heat.
Place a single layer of filled shells in a baking dish, keeping them separated, and pour the sauce over them. Bake until the sauce is thick and bubbly, about 15 minutes. Arrange attractively on a warm serving tray and place a toothpick in each shell.