Salina Chicken

Celebrating the flavours of the island of Salina, Nonna Marina inspired me to embrace the beautiful bounty growing in her back garden and create this dish, perfect for a feast. Sumptuous, comforting, melt-in-your-mouth chicken, gentle spice and delicious, buttery eggplants. With a glass of cold white wine, it's pure joy.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 20 min
  • Active: 20 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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3 eggplants, 750 grams (26 ounces) total

One 1.4-kilogram (3-pound) whole free-range chicken

Olive oil

2 cloves of garlic

3 small fresh red chillies

1 cinnamon stick

4 sprigs of fresh woody herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, bay

50 grams (1.8 ounces) baby capers in brine

2 red onions

200 grams (7 ounces) ripe cherry tomatoes

50 grams (2 ounces) pine nuts

2 lemons

4 sprigs of fresh basil


  1. Trim the eggplants, chop into random 5-centimeter (2-inch) chunks and wedges, place in a large bowl and season generously from a height with sea salt. Put aside.
  2. Joint the chicken. Drizzle all the pieces with oil, place in a large shallow pan on a medium-high heat, skin-side down, to get golden on all sides, then remove to a large platter. Wipe the salt off the eggplants and add to the pan, turning until lightly golden on all sides. Remove the eggplants to the platter and reduce the heat under the pan to low. Peel and slice the garlic, prick the chiles and place both in the pan with the cinnamon, woody herbs and capers. Stir and fry for a couple of minutes while you peel and finely slice the onions, then stir them into the pan, too. Cook for 15 minutes, or until starting to caramelize, stirring occasionally.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F)/gas 4. Squeeze the tomatoes in a bowl of water to remove the seeds--a fine nonna trick to prevent you getting splattered --then tear them into the pan. Put the chicken and eggplants back in, drizzle over any resting juices, then pour in 600 milliliters (2.5 cups) of water. Sprinkle over the pine nuts, then squeeze over the lemon juice. Cook at the bottom of the oven for 45 minutes, or until golden. Pick over the basil leaves and serve with a nice big bowl of lemony couscous.
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