It’s July and I’m mad for aubergines. Thus far, it’s the Middle Eastern dishes that have caught my eye – smoky roast aubergines combined with tahini, sharp lemons and pomegranate.
So when I came across this recipe from Jamie Oliver, gleaned from his days with the good Nonnas of Italy, I thought – why not? The ingredients alone made my mouth water.
The lemon juice is a masterstroke. Although large in quantity, the dish really does need that acid to bring the flavours to life.
Here’s my take on J-O’s Salina Chicken, for good summer eating.
2 large aubergines, large diced
1 chicken jointed into eight pieces. Team Delicious show you how to joint your chicken here, otherwise you may ask your butcher to do this.
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cinnamon stick
4 sprigs of woody herbs, such as bay, thyme and rosemary
50g capers in brine
2 red onions, finely sliced
2 red peppers
50g pine nuts
2 lemons, juiced
Fresh basil and finely grated parmesan, to serve
Preheat your oven to 180c.
Sear both the chicken and the aubergine, separately and until golden and set to one side. Use a large casserole dish with a good pinch of salt. I use olive oil, because I love the flavour. However, a neutral oil such as sunflower oil will yield a better sizzle.
Return the pot to a lower heat and add a little more oil. Tip in the cinnamon, herbs, garlic and capers. Season, and give it a good stir. Add the onions and the peppers.
Place the lid on the pot, and allow the onions to quietly reduce to a sweet, translucent slurry. This will take around 10-15 minutes.
Add the diced tomatoes, once the onions are ready.
Pile in the chicken and aubergine – it does need to be a large pot - along with around 300g of water, and the pine nuts.
Cook for 45 minutes, and allow to stand a short time before serving, so the flavours may settle.
Check the seasoning, and squeeze in the lemon juice. See how the citrus brings the flavours to life! Stir through the torn basil, and serve with a ton of grated parmesan on the side.
We ate ours with good bread, and garlic runner beans. Clean plates, all round.