Sicilian Recipes

Beccafico stuffed sardines

Introduction. Sweet-and-sour sardine rolls are one of the most loved specialties of the Sicilian cuisine. Originally, this dish was an imitation of the stuffed warbler (beccafico) considered a delicacy by the aristocracy: these rare songbirds were the hunting booty of the Sicilian nobles. The more popular version replaced the birds with sardines, prepared with a similar stuffing.

Ingredients serves 4/6. 1 kg of fresh sardines; 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped; 125 ml of extra virgin olive oil; 150 g of breadcrumbs; 100 g of pine nuts; 100 g of raisins; 20 g of finely chopped parsley; 20ml of lemon and orange juice; 1/2 lemon cut into slices; 1/2 orange cut into slices; bay leaves; salt and pepper.

How to prepare beccafico sardines. Toast the breadcrumbs for two or three minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the raisins, pine nuts, garlic, parsley and lemon and orange juice. Add a little sugar,  a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and mix everything well with a wooden spoon. Clean the sardines by depriving them of head and bones, but leave the tail on to keep the two fillets attached. Open a sardine, spoon a little stuffing onto the inner side of a fillet and spread it out. Then close the sardine, pressing the two halves together well. Fill all the sardines in the same way. Then roll up each filled sardine from the head to the tail and snugly fit the rolls in a greased baking dish, separating them with bay leaves and slices of orange and lemon. Bake at 180° for 15-20 minutes and serve warm.

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