Someone Else is Testing Rachael

I have been putting off writing about this article because I always get really jazzed up when journalists take such pleasure in debunking Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals claim. It just reminds me how the media (okay, and all of us) like to tear someone down once they get successful (for more examples, see any issue of US Weekly, you can borrow mine).

But at the same time, these articles do show how important Rachael's tips and tricks are for getting a meal to come in under 30 minutes. And, I also like any opportunity to share this quote from Rachael (again):
It's kind of creepy if you actually go home and set an egg timer," she said. "If I open the wine before I start cooking, it takes me a good 47 (minutes). If you've never picked up a knife in your life, it'll probably take you an hour."

In an article entitled "30-Minute Meals? Not from this Reporter," Ian Hill of the Stockton Record set out to show that Rachael's meals take more than 30 minutes. What a shocker. Here's his conclusion:
But in a real kitchen, the truth is that a great meal isn't always 30 minutes away. This reporter tested five recipes from Ray's 2005 cookbook "365: No Repeats" and found that while the end result was typically tasty, the preparation and cooking often took more than half an hour. It also led to a pile of messy dishes, a big grocery bill and a sweaty brow.

Hill's article is peppered with admissions regarding all the mistakes he made. The first recipe he tried was Rachael's Chicken Schnitzel With Red Caraway Cabbage. He made it in "41 minutes and 20 seconds" despite failing to have all of his ingredients ready when he started cooking.

Next, he tried Turkey Cutlet Parmigiano With Warm, Fresh Grape Tomato Topping, Pesto and Mozzarella. He complains that the ingredients are expensive, but he chose the recipe himself. This meal takes "53 minutes and 23 seconds" because the grape tomatoes weren't starting to burst. Did he think of turning up the heat on his stove? Maybe Rachael's was hotter than his?

His third attempt was on Rosemary Corn Cakes With Prosciutto and Chicken Sausages With Hot and Sweet Peppers. If nothing else, Hill's article is pointing out lots of recipes I am going to try - this sounds good! He complained that it took him visits to several stores to find prosciutto and hot red cherry peppers. Ummm, I live like 45 minutes away from Stockton and they have both of those ingredients in every grocery store. He blames the delay for this recipe on the fact that "the inch of water used to boil the sausages refuses to evaporate." He "eventually dumped [it] in the sink so the sausages can be browned and the peppers cooked." Dude, why wait so long to do that? Or how about turning up the heat? This one was "complete in 43 minutes and three seconds." Not bad considering his apparent inability to turn a knob on the stove. Sorry, was that too harsh? I told you I get jazzed up about these things.

His fourth recipe, Lion's Head (Asian pork meatballs and Napa cabbage) leads me to believe he should have tried Express Lane Meals instead of 365: No Repeats. He laments that he had to buy new shiitake mushrooms because they got moldy after a week. They he complains about the mess: "There's cornstarch on the counter tops, and dirty, greasy pots and pans are piled in the sink." If he did what Rachael does - using disposable plates for the breading ingredients, he might have avoided that problem. It took him "one hour, four minutes."

And finally, he tried Lettillas: Mix-N-Match Lettuce Tacos. This meal was made in 29 minutes and 44 seconds, to be exact. This is a one pot meal. Instead of admitting that maybe he was able to make it in 30 minutes because it was appropriate for his cooking skill level, Hill takes a parting shot: "It took five days, but Ray finally lived up to her promise - barely."

To his credit, Hill followed up this article with a piece on time saving tips for cooking. He talked to several experts, including Silvana Nardone, the editor of Every Day with Rachael Ray. "You did nothing wrong," Nardone said. "It's just practice. (Ray) has been doing it for 10 years. She's definitely fast on her feet. And she thinks fast." So there.

8 comments:

  1. *snap snap snap in a Z-formation* You go!
    >^.^<

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  2. Some people work out or see a therapist to release stress. I write a blog. Tee hee.

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  3. I have made the Lion's Head in under 30 minutes however, I have to admit, I'm starting to take shortcuts w/Rachael's recipes (i.e. using preshredded cabbage)

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  4. I have definitely seen her use pre-shredded lettuce. In some of her cookbooks, she says to buy the cole slaw mix. I want to try the Lion's Head but I try to avoid cornstarch in my ever diminishing adherence to the South Beach Diet.

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  5. Well, I think the writer must not be a very experienced cook, he seemed to make a lot of mistakes!

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  6. Maybe he should watch Rachael's show! He would certainly learn a lot!

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  7. Sounds to me like someone is being persnickety. There are cheaper shortcuts one can use. You don't have to follow what she calls for to a T. He must not cook very much to understand this...

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  8. Hey Jennifer - I am glad I don't have to call you pie anymore! I completely agree - she often says she is offering a method, not only a recipe.

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