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)

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  • C. Christy Concrete July 21, 2009  

    I’ve made something similar to this with orzo pasta, which was pretty good, but still not risotto.

    Let’s hope this isn’t starting a trend for faux dishes that appropriate legitimate names, like the scourge of faux-martinis that swept through the nation.

  • Missy July 21, 2009  

    Bahahaha. I had this same rant when friends of mine and I caught this ep this weekend.

  • ML July 21, 2009  

    what the fuck

  • Yvo July 21, 2009  

    You know, I may be alone in my thoughts, but I don’t hate Rachael. She gets annoying and her voice can be grating… but her purpose and her target audience is not you (and sometimes not me either). She tries to send forth to the country at large that “Hey, you know what? It doesn’t take a ton of effort or time to make a great meal after a hard day at work. Make it yourself and it will taste better and be done quicker than takeout.” I respect that and wish her well in continuing to propagate that message.

    Having said that, I often watch her shows for inspiration and change a lot of her recipes to my own tastes. So I’ev seen a fair number of her shows, especially the older ones, because I was a much less experienced cook just a few short years ago. And she is singlehandedly the reason I made risotto for the first time – I watched her make it and the intro started off with her saying “Most people are afraid to make risotto because they think it’s so hard and it’s so time consuming, but I’m here to show you that it can be a part of a 30 minute meal.” And then she did. And then I went out and made the same exact meal she did, and though I’ve never made anything from that meal again besides risotto, it was enough. Risotto is now a part of my repertoire, and I owe it to her.

    My longwinded point was just that yeah, some of her crap – after 50 million times making the same thing over and over again and trying to make it ‘new’ for yet another show – is a bit farfetched and r-tarded… but you missed the previous show(s) where she encouraged people to make real risotto in just 20 minutes, so it’s kind of unfair.

    Plus, did you even try to make her dish above? If you didn’t, are you so certain it would be completely terrible and gross? Just a thought…

    Sorry, I don’t want to come off all preachy.

  • Summer July 21, 2009  

    From the photo, I’ll admit, the pasta actually looks pretty tasty. But I feel your ire, tvff — if it’s risotto, it should be made from RICE. There are already lots of words for pasta dishes. Call it spaghetti, call it pasta, call it noodles, I don’t care. It’s not risotto. Don’t confuse us, Rachael.

    But then again, I’m still pissed off that the “ugh” got dropped from the word “donuts.” I might not be the best judge of the importance of culinary linguistics.

  • tvff July 21, 2009  

    For the record, I don’t hate Rachael Ray. Considering the amount of venom directed toward her online, I’m practically a fan.

    No, I didn’t try it, but I promise to save the shards from my spaghetti and get on it as soon as I get close to a pound. Check back in 2017.

    And I’m not saying it’s “gross.” Summer and Christy hit the nail on the head…there’s nothing wrong with a mushroom pasta dish. Don’t call it something else. It’s trying to hard.

    And — did I mention — you’re supposed put a nice, delicate SALAD on top of this thing? That, despite my disclaimer above, is gross.

  • DKM Marlink July 22, 2009  

    “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.”

    Oh, you’re definitely not alone. It’s just that Food Network is rather infamous for deleting negative reviews posted to the site.

  • Hakuna Fritatta July 22, 2009  

    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.>>>

    Oh no, I believe that happened a minimum of 3 years ago, which was contemporaneous with the start of her phoning it in and making up recipes by pulling them out of her ever-expanding ass.

    BTW, must disagree with Summer saying the dish looks tasty. I think it looks like Worms and Cat Poop. And FWIW, when she first aired the making of spaghetti cooked like risotto she claimed it was “a classic Northern Italian dish.” My honey is also a classic Northern Italian dish, so I asked him about it. Result: he never heard of such a thing and thought it sounded dreadful.

    PS– I showed him this blog post and he says “if this is Northern Italian it must be NE Italian from near Yugoslavia. Near the French border it simply doesn’t exist.

  • Alex July 23, 2009  

    agreed on the worms and cat poop, though I think it might just be bad lighting.

  • Yvo July 24, 2009  


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