Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Smackdown Round Two - Rachel Ray vs Sandra Lee

I had fun when I pitted Rachel Ray and Sandra Lee against each other for Presto Pasta night over at Ruth's that I thought I'd try it again, but this time with two recipes for main courses.

As a reminder to those who may have missed the last one, Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Get Real Meals battled against Sandra Lee's Semi Homemade Cooking 2 in a pasta competition.

Do a Google (or other) search on the Internet for Sandra Lee and you'll find that people have some very strong opinions about her. Or just read the comments from my other post. Honestly,I can't really get into a debate on whether Sandra Lee is good or bad. Her shows are not televised in Canada; I saw two episodes when we were on vacation earlier this year and I don't remember too much about them - I was lying on the couch zonked out on codeine and alcohol (don't try this at home kids!) after breaking my toes. I don't own any of her books - the one pictured above was borrowed from the library a couple of months ago. I flipped through it, copied down some recipes that sounded good and took it back. So please don't hate me that I don't hate her. Perhaps I just don't know any better.

So here's Round Two of Smackdown - Rachel Ray vs Sandra Lee. Battle Beef!

Our first dish is from Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Get Real Meals. Meatball and Spinach No-sagna.

This was pretty good. Like Rachel's pasta recipe from the first smack down, it took way longer than 30 minutes, probably more than an hour, but it was good. It's basically huge meatballs baked over spinach with tomato sauce. Lasagna with no noodles. Hence the No-Sagne name. There was wayyyy more than 4 servings here. I don't know if I would make this again, although Scott loved the leftover meatballs (not so much the spinach) and ate meatball subs for lunch for days.

And here is Crispy Orange Beef from Sandra Lee Semi Homemade Cooking 2.

I LOVED this dish. This dish also had a cooking time of 30 minutes and unlike Rachel Ray, the Crispy Orange Beef delivered. Such a small list of ingredients (beef, garlic, marmalade, beef broth, chiles and soy sauce) came together fast for a fantastic dish. Neither Scott and I are fans of marmalade. I loved it in this dish, he didn't care for the pieces of peel so much. Next time I make this (oh yes, there will be more than one next time!!!!) I think I might push the marmalade thru a sieve to take some of the peel out. Perhaps Scott would like it better that way. If not, more for me!

Sorry to say, Sandra Lee haters, Sandra wins Round Two. Don't hate me!

Crispy Orange Beef
Sandra Lee Semi Homemade 2

1 1/2 pounds flank steak, cut in 1-inch strips
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup cornstarch
Vegetable oil, for frying

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
10 small dried Thai chiles
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Season flank steak strips with salt and pepper, then toss with cornstarch. Shake off excess.

Fill a large frying pan with enough oil to cover the bottom by 1/4 to 1/2-inch. Heat the oil to 365'. Working in batches, fry the steak. Do not crowd pan. Drain on paper towels. Set aside.

For the sauce: Heat the oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat and cook the garlic until fragrant; do not let the garlic brown. Add orange marmalade, 1/2 cup beef broth, soy sauce, and chiles. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. In a small bowl, stir cornstarch into remaining 1/2 cup beef broth. Stir cornstarch mixture into simmering sauce. Return to a simmer for 3 to 4 minutes until sauce thickens.

Sandra Lee suggests serving the beef with frisee and crisp noodles. I served mine with rice.

Our results stand thusly - Rachel Ray 0, Sandra Lee 2. I'm off to choose two new competitors for another Smackdown. Any suggestions? Bobby Flay vs Anthony Bourdain? Ina Garten vs Paula Deen? Lidia Bastianich vs Giada De Laurentis?


Peter M said...

Another entertaining battle and future cook-offs sound good.

I think you should challenge one of Anthony Bourdain's dishes against someone he's dissed and see what the result would be.

Cris said...

I like your chef battles, this just gets me to know them better! I wish I could get Ray's magazines here!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Would you believe I've never seen an episode of either? I swear. I've seen snippets at the gym when I'm doing cardio, but never a whole episode. So, I'm not sure who I'd root for!

Deborah said...

I can't believe Sandra won again!! I have to admit, I've tried quite a few of Rachael Ray's recipes, and 9 out of 10 times I like them. But I've never tried Sandra to compare...

Sara said...

Peter - someone bourdain has dissed - isn't that EVERYONE??? :)

Cris - I really, really enjoy her magazine. Much more than her shows.

Susan - If you ever do see them both, you'll have to let me know if you dislike Sandra Lee as much as everyone.

Deborah - I've like some, not all, of the Rachel Ray dishes I've made. These are the only 2 Sandra Lee recipes I've made, but they are both gooooooood.

Vicki said...

The Sandra Lee recipe doesn't really sound like anything she'd make on her Semi-Homemade show, it actually sounds edible. Trust me, you don't want to try any of the recipes she "cooks" on TV...

Peabody said...

I think they are both evil. Interesting that Sandra Lee won.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

So does this prove that "the personality" isn't the recipe!
We humans are pretty funny with our opinions.

Jessie said...

I like both..but honestly I think I like Sandra better. Ray obviously has more interesting recipes...but sometimes her flavors are off-the-wall or strange to me. You cant make a dinner from her cookbook for your whole family and have everyone actually eat it! There will be a lot of PB&J sandwiches around the table. Sandra's dishes remind me of things my grandmother made and I think its very nostalgic for some of us. Though, I think they both have extremely annoying personalities!

Anonymous said...

I love your smackdown! LOL I'm not surprised that Sandra Lee won ... though I've made good and bad recipes from both of them it seems Sandra's recipes are more consistent and less off the wall than some of Rachael's.

Lis said...

HAR! We could never hate you.. although some of us could question your sanity at times. ;)

Actually they both look fantastic and oddly, they both sound delicious to me right now. I say oddly because they are such different dishes, you'd think one would sound better than both..

Anyhoo.. I can't believe I just said that a Sandra Lee recipe sounded good! Maybe because I read it here and didn't have to deal with her mammories and her obvious lust for the cocktail would come as soon as she was off camera...


Anonymous said...

Even though I loathe RR and SL, I don't hate you! These two 'cooks' are pretty much on the same level, which is good for Smackdown. I use the term 'cook' lightly considering SL uses premade items all the time - that's her thing. Anyways, I think a challenging smackdown would be more interesting - batali vs. ripert? morimoto vs. pepin? bastianich vs. moulton? These are real chefs and I can't help but trust their expertise a bit more. I'd be so into that challenge!- amy @

Judy said...

I have made a few of Rachael's recipes, and I like almost all of them. And I've never had a problem with going over 30 minutes, but maybe I made simpler dishes.

I'm not familiar with Sandra either, but I do know that many people (namely foodies) can't stand her. If her recipe was good though, who cares?

SnoWhite said...

The beef sounds yummy!

I wasn't sure if I'd like Sandra either -- her recipes rely on too many pre-packed items for me to find something that really works for us. But, I did find a yummy, easy dessert bar that I enjoyed quite a bit.

Candi said...


mub said...

I seem to have a 50% success 50% failure rate with RR recipes only taking 30 minutes. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't *L*

The Sandra Lee recipe looks really tasty though, I've bookmarked it! Thanks =)

Ticia said...

Oops, closed form before I hit submit. I've found a few recipes using orange marmalade that sounded like hits, and this one sounds like another.

Ticia said...

I've found a few recipes with orange marmalade that I really like, this sounds like it might be another one.