Rachael Ray’s Risotto-Free Risotto
Ladies and gentlemen, it has finally happened. After airing 24,685 (approximately) dishes that can be made in less than half an hour, Rachael Ray apparently ran out of good ideas, said “screw it,” and invented what has to be the most ridiculous pasta dish ever to grace the airwaves.
I was having such a good weekend from a culinary standpoint. I was playing tour guide around Philly for an visiting friend and it included a delicious chanterelle and bone marrow ravioli at Osteria and some fantastic gelato from Capogiro, so you can imagine my disappointment when flipped on Food Network Sunday morning and saw Ms. Ray assaulting the proud tradition of the Italian people.
Technically called “Wild Mushroom Broken Spaghetti Risotto with Arugula and Hazelnuts,” it’s basically inch-long shards of long pasta cooked by adding stock like you would to true risotto. If you’re thinking this sounds like a bad idea, you’re right. But why is this seemingly innocent dish attracting my ire?
For starters, the whole premise that Rach gives is that you always have broken pasta that you get in a box. While that’s true, we’re talking about three or four pieces in my boxes. It would take me approximately fourteen years to get enough for a meal. Maybe Ms. Ray should stop sitting on the groceries on the car ride home from the store.
Secondly, this perpetuates the myth that real risotto is either difficult or time-consuming. It’s just not. You can bang out a perfectly good risotto in twenty minutes — including dicing some onions and celery — so a bunch of soggy noodles is not the kind of shortcut you should be taking.
Finally, how do we ruin a perfectly shitty mushroom/macaroni soup? Throw a salad on top!
I’m probably the asshole in this equation, though, since all ten people who have reviewed the dish on the Food Network site gave it a full five stars. And I’m sure we can’t question their discerning palates.
Fine…I’ll say something nice about it: Her process of using the chicken stock to reconstitute the dried mushrooms is a very good one that brings a ton of flavor. Throw in a pinch of saffron if you have it, too.
Just be sure to use arborio rice and not some leftover linguine.
(Photo: Food Network)