Rachel Ray is Not So Bad: Spanish Stew

I’m generally a shy person, and as a novice cook in my first apartment’s kitchen, I would chide myself for mistakes made, not because the food I was cooking for my dinners alone wouldn’t taste right, but because I felt humilated (in front of who, I don’t know). It’s understandable (or am I just crazy?), since a lot of food publications and even some food shows assume that a person has some (even if it is a small) understanding of the cooking process before they try single-handly to make every recipe they can find in Gourmet or Bon Apetit. Until I realized that I would need to research and educate myself in cooking basics before diving in with the big-leaguers, I had many unhappy afternoons of wilted souffles and charred chicken. So, before long, I became obsessed with Rachael Ray. I watched 30 minute-meals practically everyday and bought many of her cookbooks. She provided easy and interesting recipes and, more importantly, none of that “gourmet” talk of roux or clafoutis, or really anything more complicated than a one (or two)-pot dinner. Rachael Ray nevered expects me to know even the basics of cooking before hitting her kitchen, which is why she spends the entire length of her show gabbing away. It’s gaurenteed she’ll tout the benefits of barbage bowls and healthy doses of EVOO each episode, becoming quite annoying, but we have to give her credit for never confusing the clumsy cook. That said, it takes a dedicated amateur cook only so long before they need to move on, and though I still consider myself a clumsy cook (with the scars to prove it), I had taken to scoffing at Rachael, her easy one-pot laughable dinners, while I slaved over recipes by Daniel Bolud and Thomas Keller, all of them involving hours of sweat and tears. I let my Rachael Ray cookbooks grow rather dusty on the bookshelf.

And then I got real. No 9-5er in this world has the time to cook 5-star dinners every night. And instead of crying over my desire to quit my job and cook all day, I realized I could whip up fast, easy, and different recipes daily, without overextending myself (burning out on Tuesday and ordering take out for the rest of the week.) I blew the dust off my 30-minute meals cookbook and got to work. (And then had time for a movie, shower, and a drink before bed!)

Yes, RR cookbooks do tend to use ingredients that most self-described gourmands shy away from—chicken cutlets, ground turkey—but any competent cook (maybe that can be my new name!) can substitute to their likings and standards (what snobs we are!)

This recipe is adapted from Rachael Ray’s Big, Thick, & Hearty Thighs (I couldn’t bear to use that name!) and made use out of my basketful of farmer’s market onions! The end result was a lot like a stew, thus the new name. I added sausage and a lot of spices to fit my hard-to-please spice palate. Adjust the spices to your taste.

Spanish Stew

Time: 30 minutes!

  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil (yes, EVOO)
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • ½ pound chorizo sausage
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 Tbs Fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • small handful of brown rice, optional
  • 1/2 cup Dry white wine
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 medium to large red bliss potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 cup Fozen peas
  • 1 cup bottled roasted pepper, drained
  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp good paprika

1. Preheat a large skillet or wide soup pot over med-high heat and add extra virgin olive oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to skillet and brown on both sides for 3 minutes. Scoot thighs to the edges of the pan, making some space in the center of the skillet. Add the onions, chorizo, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently for 2 minutes.

2. Add the rice, wine, and chicken stock, turn the heat up to high, bring up to a simmer. Add the potatoes and stir everything together. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Remove lid and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Add peas, peppers, spices, and cook for 1 more minute to just heat the peas through.

YUM-O! hahaha

6 thoughts on “Rachel Ray is Not So Bad: Spanish Stew”

  1. I agree with you, Rachel Ray makes everything accessible and keeps things nice and simple! I think your stew sounds great…I especially like all of the additional spices!! Thanks.

  2. Rachel Ray kind of terrifies me, but it sounds like as a complete newbie cook I’m her key demographic. Perhaps it’s time to check out a few RR books from the library to go with my copy of “How to Boil Water…”

  3. Thanks Dani, and yes Jim, RR is great for beginners. And if you can’t stand her voice, just get the cookbooks, close your eyes and ear and scream la-la-la through all of her chintzy titles!

  4. I am in total agreement with you about Rachael Ray… most of her recipes are not only fast but really easy to make if you have no idea what you’re doing. I didn’t even know how to cut up an onion before her. lol I’ll stick with her no matter how loud and annoying she becomes on her show 🙂

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