English food personality Nigella Lawson joined “Good Morning America” to show how home cooks can elevate dinner with food that’s likely already in the pantry.
Lawson shared two simple recipes with versatile ingredients and tips for how to use leftovers to create a completely new dish.
Each recipe below utilizes a straight-forward cooking process with ease of accessibility in Lawson’s mind to help take everyday foods and elevate them into a fabulous meal.
Chicken with Garlic Cream Sauce
Serves: 4 to 6
1 chicken (approx. 3 1/2 pounds) butterflied
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt or kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt), plus more for sprinkling
2 fat cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
5 tablespoons dry white vermouth (or wine) combined with 5 tablespoons cold water (or 2/3 cup light chicken broth in place of the vermouth and water, if preferred)
For the sauce
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
4 fat cloves of garlic
A good grinding of pepper
Flaky sea salt to taste
3 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
If you haven’t got a butcher to butterfly the chicken for you, do not worry: it’s easy enough to do yourself; Put the chicken, breast-side down, in a large but fairly shallow roasting pan (I use one that measures 14 x 15 x 2 inches) and push down on it until you hear a satisfying crunch. With some good kitchen scissors or poultry shears, cut through each side of the backbone, remove it, leaving it in the pan, then turn the chicken the other way up, and now press onto the breast to flatten it a little more.
Flip the chicken breast-side down again and sprinkle ½ teaspoon of flaky sea salt or kosher salt (or ¼ teaspoon of fine sea salt) over the inside of the chicken. Peel the 2 cloves of garlic and mince or grate over the chicken, too, and rub lightly into the meat. Leave for 30 minutes or so to let the chicken come to room temperature.
Pour the cream into a small saucepan (I use one of 6 inches diameter). Peel the 4 cloves of garlic, and mince or grate into the cream, add a good grinding of pepper, stir well, and bring to a boil, then turn down and let it bubble away for 3 minutes. Don’t worry about the cream boiling, just don’t let it boil over. Stir regularly with a silicone spatula so that you can scrape down the sides as well. Take the pan off the heat, cover with a lid or foil and let it steep while the chicken cooks.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Turn the chicken the right way up, smear the soft butter over the skin, and sprinkle with the remaining half teaspoon of flaky sea salt or kosher salt (or a quarter teaspoon of fine sea salt.) Pour the vermouth and water (replacing both with light chicken broth if you prefer) into the pan around the chicken and transfer to the oven to cook for approx. 45 minutes, by which time the skin should be golden and crisp, and the meat completely cooked through. The juices should run clear if you use the tip of a knife to pierce where the thigh meets the body (or just waggle the thigh to see if it feels loose). Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes. Pour the juices from the roasting pan into your saucepan of cream, scraping up any golden sticky bits.
While the chicken is resting, bring the cream sauce to just under a boil, then turn the heat down and let it simmer gently for 5 minutes, keeping an eye on the pan and stirring regularly. Taste to see if you want to add salt and pour into a warmed pitcher. Add most of the chopped parsley and chives to the pitcher and stir.
Cut the chicken up and arrange on a warmed platter. Pour a little of the sauce over, and sprinkle with the remaining herbs. Bring the pitcher to the table with the chicken so that people can pour more over as they eat. It’s a lot of sauce, but that’s the way we like it. Should you have any left over, warm it up, add a little grated Parmesan and some more freshly chopped parsley or chives, toss with pasta or drizzle over steamed baby potatoes or, frankly, anything you’d like.
Leftover option: Lawson said you can take already cooked pasta and add it to the cream sauce with peas and the leftover chicken and toss it together for a second dish.
Butternut with Beet, Chili and Ginger Sauce
Serves: 4 to 6
For the sauce
1 large raw beet (6–7 ounces)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole-milk
Greek yogurt (or oat-milk crème fraîche if you need it to be vegan)
2 fat cloves of garlic
1 1/4-inch piece of fresh ginger
1 red chili
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt or kosher salt (or ½ teaspoon fine sea salt)
For the butternut
1 butternut squash
1 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ cup cold-pressed rapeseed oil or olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons flaky sea salt or kosher salt (or ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt)
Heat the oven to 425 degrees, cut the tail and stem off the beet, and wrap loosely with foil, sealing the edges tightly, and roast in the oven for about 2 hours, or until it feels properly tender when pierced with the tip of a normal eating knife. Unwrap the parcel, and leave to cool.
Once the beet’s cold, you can make the sauce. Put the yogurt in a bowl that you can use a stick blender with. Peel and halve the garlic cloves and drop them in. Then peel the ginger with the tip of a teaspoon, and either chop it roughly or cut it into 3 or 4 pieces, and add these to the bowl. Seed the chili and tear it into 2 or 3 pieces and add them to the bowl, too, followed by the salt. 3. Peel the beet, though unless you want more than a touch of the Lady Macbeths, it might be wise to wear gloves as you do so (I use disposable ones, and wash and reuse them). Break the beet up a bit over the bowl and drop the pieces in, too. Then blitz to a smooth, shocking-pink cream with a stick blender. You can also do all of this with a bullet blender. Set this amazingly vivid fluid sauce to one side for now.
To roast the butternut squash heat the oven to 400ºF. However, were you making this to go with the roasted vegetables and bulgur wheat, for which you need the oven to be at 425 degrees, you can roast the butternut at this higher temperature, but put it in the oven on a shelf below the pan of leeks and bell peppers.
Do not peel the butternut, just halve it, remove the seeds, and then cut into large chunks. Tumble these into a large but fairly shallow roasting pan (I use one measuring 13 x 15 x 2 inches), sprinkle over the spices as evenly as possible, pour over the oil and then, with a couple of spatulas—or just use your hands—turn the butternut chunks well in the oil and spices until lightly coated. Sprinkle with the salt, and roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until tender; squashes vary enormously and, until you cut up and cook one, you never quite know whether its flesh will be smooth and dense, or slightly grainy and watery. Let us hope for the former. But even a disappointing butternut can be salvaged successfully in any one of the three ways.
You can keep the butternut warm in the turned-off oven if that suits you, and then, when you’re ready to serve, arrange on a platter or in a large shallow bowl, spoon some of the beet sauce pinkly over its orange flesh, and pour the rest into a little pitcher for people to add more if they want—and they will—as they eat.
Leftover option: Puree and liquidize the butternut squash, then using hot broth turn it into a simple soup. Lawson suggests adding chopped pistachios on top for crunch.
Recipes reprinted with permission from “Cook, Eat, Repeat: Ingredients, Recipes, and Stories by Nigella Lawson.” Copyright 2021 Nigella Lawson. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.