Sarde a beccafico

While happily surfing through the oceans of the world wide web, I captured in my net a shoal of squirming sardines, on the blog Manineinpasta.com. Stefano and the little G. illustrate the curious story which gives the name to one of the most Sicilian recipes on earth: sardines “a beccafico”. Caught by a sudden impulse of nostalgia, I felt the urge to prepare them. Here’s to you the recipe, inspired by Alba Allotta’s book “La cucina siciliana di mare”.

Ingredients for 6 persons
– sardines, 1kg
– bread crumbs, 150g
– anchovies preserved in salt, 2
– pine nuts, 30g
– raisin, 50g
– lemons, 2
– Extra virgin olive oil
– laurel leaves
– salt and pepper

Heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small pan and gently roast the bread crumbs and a low heat until it reaches a golden, red-brown colour. Be careful not to burn it. Transfer to a bowl and keep 1 tablespoon of bread crumbs aside. Rinse the anchovies, remove the spine, mince them and dissolve them in a little olive oil. Add to the bread crumbs, together with the raisins, the pine nuts, a little salt, a pinch of black ground pepper and some olive oil. Toss well.
Clean the sardines by removing the head and the spine, then open them flat (skin side facing downwards), quickly rinse them, put them on a chopping board and sprinkle with salt. Put a tablespoon of bread crumbs mixture over each sardine, then roll them over themselves to form several roulades. Put them in a baking tin greased with oil, and alternate them with laurel leaves and thin slices of lemon.
Sprinkle with lemon juice and a little olive oil, spread the rest of the bread crumbs all over and bake in a hot oven at 200° for 15 minutes.

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